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Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky says Nato must choose ‘whether we indeed are allies’

WorldUkraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky says Nato must choose ‘whether we indeed are allies’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that Nato must decide if it is Ukraine’s ally and urged the defence alliance’s members to accelerate weapons deliveries to help his struggling forces.

His appeal to Western partners to provide at least seven more air defence systems came hours after Russia launched a wave of fatal drone and missile attacks across the country.

A barrage in Ukraine’s eastern Dnipropetrovsk region left at least seven dead, including children. But – in a first – Ukraine said it had downed one of the long-range Russian bombers that launched the missiles.

“Our sky must become safe again,” the Ukrainian leader told a gathering of Nato defence ministers via video link.

A rescuer is seen at work at an apartment block that was partially destroyed by the Russian missile attack on Dnipro on Friday. Photo: Ukrinform via dpa

“It depends fully on your choice,” he said, telling the meeting in Brussels that their alliance faced a choice over “whether we indeed are allies”.

Zelensky has pointed to Western efforts to defend Israel from Iranian aerial attacks and suggested Ukraine’s allies could do more to fend off Russian bombardments.

Casting a bleak picture of his forces’ ability to hold off Russian attacks on the ground, Zelensky said Ukraine could not defend itself without Western support.

“It is obvious that now, while Russia has air advantage and can rely on its drone and rocket terror, our capabilities on the ground, unfortunately, are limited,” he told the Nato ministers.

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Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said the bloc had agreed to give Ukraine more weapons including air defences.

“Nato has mapped out existing capabilities across the alliance and there are systems that can be made available to Ukraine,” he said.

“So I expect new announcements on air defence capabilities for Ukraine soon.”

Ukraine has seen an uptick in devastating Russian attacks on its cities. Earlier this week, a strike on the city of Chernihiv killed 18 people.


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Zelensky called a Saturday vote in the US House of Representatives on a long-delayed US$61 billion military aid package a “vitally important decision”.

The aid has been delayed since last year amid political infighting in the Republican Party and Zelensky on Friday urged Ukraine’s allies to make speedier decisions on support. “This year, we can’t wait for decisions to be made,” he said.

“We need seven more Patriots or similar air defence systems – and it’s a minimum number. They can save many lives and really change the situation,” Zelensky said.

He addressed the Nato ministers after visiting Ukrainian troops on the front line and inspecting new defensive lines dug in the war-battered Donetsk region.

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