‘Turning a blind eye’: Zelenskyy slams allies as Russia intensifies attacks

Ukraine president says country needs air defence systems and not ‘lengthy’ talks as Russia targets energy infrastructure.

Russia launched new strikes across the border region of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 11, 2024 [Handout/Governor Oleh Syniehubov Telegram channel/Al Jazeera]

Ukraine needs military aid and air defence systems in the face of Russia’s intensifying attacks, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, as he criticised his country’s allies for engaging in “lengthy discussions” and “turning a blind eye”.

The Russian military launched attacks on five regions across Ukraine, killing at least seven people and damaging infrastructure including substations and power generation facilities, Ukrainian officials said on Thursday.

Zelenskyy said Russia fired more than 40 missiles and about 40 attack drones overnight, many targeting energy infrastructure. The attacks show how “critical” air defence has become for Ukraine, he posted on X, adding that the Russian missiles and Iranian-designed one-way drones must not be allowed to hit Ukraine.

In southern Odesa, Governor Oleh Kiper said on his Telegram channel on Wednesday night that Russian missile strikes killed four people, including a 10-year-old girl, and left several others in critical condition.

The region’s air defences shot down seven Iranian-designed attack drones of the Russian military near energy infrastructure, which was not damaged, Kiper said on Thursday morning.

In northeastern Kharkiv, two women and a 14-year-old girl were killed after a missile strike on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram, also posting photos of rescuers clearing up rubble.

He reported multiple other attacks across Kharkiv through Thursday morning, including a drone attack that injured one person, and a missile fired from a Russian S-300 system that targeted “energy infrastructure”.

Kharkiv was targeted with more than 10 missiles, leaving more than 200,000 subscribers without power.

Kharkiv, the capital of the region of the same name, lies just 30km (19 miles) from the border with Russia and has come under frequent bombardment since Moscow launched its invasion in February 2022.

Attacks in the capital Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia and Lviv also targeted infrastructure, but left no casualties, according to local authorities.

Zelenskyy said that “if Russian missiles and ‘Shahed’ drones continue to strike not only Ukraine but also the resolve of our allies, this will amount to a global license for terror”.

The president travelled to Lithuania to participate in a regional security summit on Thursday, saying that “Russian evil is a threat not only to Ukraine, but to every nation bordering Russia and to everyone who values international law”.

Ukraine signed a 10-year bilateral security deal with Latvia at the meeting. “It envisages Latvia’s annual military support for Ukraine at 0.25% of GDP,” Zelenskyy  posted on X.

On Wednesday, United States President Joe Biden urged the US House of Representatives to vote immediately on a $60bn Ukraine aid bill, which has been stuck in the House after clearing the Senate.

“There’s overwhelming support for Ukraine among the majority of Democrats and Republicans. There should be a vote now,” Biden told reporters.

Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday passed a bill to overhaul its army mobilisation rules as it tries to generate fresh manpower to rotate its troops.

The measure, which must be signed by Zelenskyy before it becomes law, would oblige men between 18 and 60 years to update their personal data with the military authorities, allowing draft offices to see more easily who can be called up in any region.

The bill also does not set any time limit for wartime military service, meaning that soldiers who have been fighting since the beginning of the invasion will have no demobilisation date and a chance to return home. The final, amended text of the contentious measures was still to be published on the parliament’s website.

Ukraine’s General Yuriy Sodol told parliament that Russian forces outnumber Ukrainian troops seven to 10 times in eastern regions.

“We lack manpower,” said Sodol, who is commanding soldiers in the regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

The top general for US forces in Europe, General Christopher Cavoli, told Congress on Wednesday that Ukraine will be outgunned 10 to one by Russia within a matter of weeks if Washington does not send more ammunition and weapons soon.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies