More than 50 Western countries gathered on Wednesday (October 12th) to pledge more weapons to Ukraine, especially air defenses after Russia launched its most intense missile strikes since the start of the war.
At the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group meeting in Brussels, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Russia’s latest attacks had laid bare its “wickedness and cruelty” since the invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine on February 24.
Ukraine has changed momentum since September with extraordinary gains but would need more help, he said.
“These victories belong to the brave Ukrainian soldiers. But the contact group’s assistance, training and security support efforts have been vital,” Austin said.
Russian attacks using more than 100 missiles have killed at least 26 people across Ukraine since Monday, when President Vladimir Putin ordered what he called retaliatory strikes against Ukraine for a bridge explosion.
On Wednesday, air raid sirens sounded over swaths of Ukraine for a third day and shelling was reported, but no sign of a repeat of the intensive nationwide strikes of the previous two days.
The missiles mainly targeted civilian electricity and heating infrastructure, while some hit busy roads, parks and tourist sites, including in central Kyiv.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia’s missile attacks were a sign of weakness. “Russia is losing on the battlefield,” Stoltenberg said.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the Evening Standard that people had underestimated Ukraine and overestimated Russia. “But he (Putin) has in his back pocket millions of people that he can put through a meat grinder with no rules, no regard for human lives and innocents and civilians,” he added.
Since Monday’s attacks, Germany has sent the first of four planned IRIS-T SLM air defense systems, while Washington has said it will speed up the delivery of a promised NASAMS air defense system.
The Czech Republic has said it will refuse Russians with Schengen zone visas from October 25, as it joins other members of the European Union in tightening entry rules.
“As Russian rockets fall on a children’s playground and on Ukrainians, up to 200 citizens of the Russian Federation are traveling to the Czech Republic via international airports every day,” said Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky.
In Kyiv, residents cleaned up after strikes this week.
“It’s not that they are fighting the army, they are just motivated by a desire to destroy us, to destroy us, to destroy us,” said Yulia Datsenko, a 38-year-old paramedic, as she examined damage to his apartment.
Pope Francis denounced the bombings, part of what he called a “hurricane of violence”.
On the battlefield, the Ukrainian governor of the partially occupied province of Donetsk said seven people were killed in the Russian shelling of a market in the front town of Avdiivka.
The Ukrainian army said its forces had consolidated control of several settlements recaptured from Russian troops on the west bank of the Dnipro, near the Russian-occupied town of Beryslav in the Kherson region.
The Ukrainians broke through the Russian front line in the area in early October and advanced in an attempt to cut off thousands of Russian troops from supply and escape routes across the river.
Russian media reported explosions in Kherson and Melitopol in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine.
Also in the south, Russian missiles destroyed buildings in the Zaporizhzhia region overnight, although no casualties were reported, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said.
Video footage from Ukrainian emergency services showed a family being rescued from a razed building following what it said was a missile attack in Zaporizhzhia. Reuters could not independently verify the location of the video or the date it was taken.
Sixth largest city in Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia is still controlled by Ukraine although Moscow claims to have annexed the surrounding province. The city has suffered nightly Russian attacks since the proclamation of annexation, including at least three buildings destroyed while residents slept. Starukh said at least 70 people have been killed this month.