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Zelenskyy appeals to NATO members for arms, aid for Ukraine
Europe Ukraine

Zelenskyy appeals to NATO members for arms, aid for Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to NATO members Friday to step up arms deliveries to Ukraine, which is struggling with diminished munitions while Russia has an air advantage and more ground forces.

“NATO must decide if it is Kyiv’s ally,” Zelenskyy told a gathering of NATO defense ministers in Brussels via video link. “Our sky must become safe again,” he added.

His appeal to Western partners to provide at least seven more air defense systems came hours after Russia barraged the country with deadly drones and missiles.

At least eight people, including two children, were killed in a Russian barrage on Ukraine’s eastern Dnipropetrovsk region. But Ukraine said it had downed one of the long-range Russian bombers that launched the missiles for the first time.

Zelenskyy compared Western efforts to defend Israel to those toward Ukraine’s defense against Russia and said more could be done to help Kyiv repel Russian airstrikes.

Ukraine could not defend itself without Western support, he told NATO ministers.

“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 said.

Firefighters work at a site of an apartment building hit by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine, April 19, 2024.

Firefighters work at a site of an apartment building hit by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine, April 19, 2024.

Earlier Friday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the bloc had agreed to give Ukraine more weapons, including air defenses.

“I expect new announcements on air defense capabilities for Ukraine soon,” he added.

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

Zelenskyy called an upcoming vote Saturday in the U.S. House of Representatives on a long-delayed $61 billion military aid package for Ukraine “vitally important” and added that the country could no longer “wait for decisions to be made.”

Earlier Friday, Zelenskyy said he had visited Ukrainian front-line troops and inspected new defensive lines in the war-battered Donetsk region.

He also said Russia on Friday had struck two food export terminals at the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi.

“Agricultural products destined for Asian and African countries were destroyed in them,” he said.

This was “part of a deliberate Russian strategy to cause maximum damage to Ukraine and the countries that rely on Ukrainian agricultural goods,” he said.

Blinken: China helping Russia

China is the primary contributor to Russia’s military industry complex, as Moscow grinds ahead with its invasion of Ukraine, providing Russia with inputs and components for weaponry, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday following a meeting of G7 ministers in Capri, Italy.

“When it comes to Russia’s defense, the primary contributor at this moment to that, is China. We see China sharing machine tools, semi-conductors, other dual use items that have helped Russia rebuild its defense industrial base that sanctions and export controls had done so much to degrade,” he said.

Blinken said China cannot have it both ways — helping Russia and keeping good relations with Europe.

“If China purports on the one hand to want good relations with Europe and other countries, it can’t on the other hand be fueling what is the biggest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War,” Blinken told reporters after a meeting of G7 foreign ministers, where he urged his European counterparts to increase pressure on Beijing.

Blinken said if aid to Ukraine is further delayed, there is a real risk it will arrive too late. He underscored it is imperative for Ukraine to get more resources immediately.

G7 warns Iran

The Group of Seven foreign ministers Friday warned Iran against “substantive material escalation in its support for Russia’s war in Ukraine,” in a joint statement released after their meeting in Italy.

“We are extremely concerned by reports that Iran is considering transferring ballistic missiles and related technology to Russia,” said the G7 foreign ministers. Should Iran proceed, they added, “we are prepared to respond in a swift and coordinated manner, including with new and significant measures against Iran.”

Top diplomats from the world’s largest developed economies said they would continue to provide Ukraine military, financial, political, humanitarian, economic and development support after this week’s G7 talks, pledging to “bolster Ukraine’s air defense capabilities” and protect critical infrastructure.

“We condemn Russia’s recent missile and drone strikes against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and cities across Ukraine,” said the G7 ministers in the joint statement, following recent attacks on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant that have raised concerns about the potential for a major nuclear accident.

VOA State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching contributed to this report. Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.