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‘We must defeat Russian terror’: Zelenskyy renews call for stronger air defenses

Ukrainian gunners of the 14th Separate Mechanised Brigade named after Prince Roman the Great, fire at the enemy with BM 21 “Grad” MLRS at a position near the town of Kupyansk, Kharkiv Region, on April 18, 2024, amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Anatolii Stepanov | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday renewed his push for Western allies to bolster his country’s struggling air defenses, saying the ability to intercept missiles has been demonstrated in the Middle East, “and it should also work in Europe.”

His comments came shortly after a major Russian missile attack was reported to have killed at least eight people in the central Ukrainian region of Dnipropetrovsk.

“Every country that provides air defense systems to Ukraine, every leader who helps persuade our partners that air defense systems should not be stored in warehouses but deployed in real cities and communities facing terror, and everyone who supports our defense is a life saver,” Zelenskyy said via social media platform X.

“We must defeat Russian terror. It is necessary not only for our country and Ukrainians, but for the entire world,” he added.

— Sam Meredith

Ukraine says 8 killed in major Russian attack on Dnipropetrovsk region

Rescue operations on Friday were underway in the central Ukrainian region of Dnipropetrovsk after a major Russian attack was reported to have killed at least eight people.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said via Telegram that a five-story residential building and civil infrastructure objects were damaged in the city of Dnipro because of the strikes. Two people died and 16 were injured, Klymenko said.

Fires were extinguished after the strikes damaged more than a dozen private buildings in the city of Synelnykove, where six people died and two more were injured, Klymenko said, according to Google translated remarks.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground.

— Sam Meredith

Russia could be ready to attack NATO in 5-8 years, German official says

Russia could be ready to attack NATO in five to eight years, a top German military official said, according to Reuters.

Lieutenant General Carsten Breuer told reporters that Moscow could be ready to attack members of the Western military alliance once it has rebuilt its forces depleted by the war in Ukraine.

“By then, based on our analysis, Russia (will have) reconstituted its own forces to a degree that an attack against NATO soil could be possible,” he told journalists during a visit to Poland on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

“I am not saying it will take place but that it could be possible,” he said. “What we see is a threat in five to eight years.”

President Vladimir Putin has rebuffed concerns that NATO could be targeted directly by Russia but has frequently warned that the country, and its nuclear arsenal, are ready to be deployed if it perceives its sovereignty to have been violated.

A DPR army fighter is seen in front of the tank as Russian attacks continue in Mariupol, Ukraine on May 04, 2022.

Leon Klein | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian defense spending and production of military hardware has rocketed as the country looks to supply its forces in Ukraine in the years ahead, but Breuer said Russia also appeared to be holding military equipment back.

“We see that Russia is producing a lot of war-fighting materiel and it is not putting all of this materiel to the frontline in Ukraine… so in 2029 we have to be ready,” Breuer said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine ramps up diplomatic efforts amid pleas for urgent air defenses

Ukraine’s top officials are ramping up calls for urgent air defenses and weaponry amid a flurry of high-profile meetings and summits.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting in Capri on Thursday. Kuleba stated on social media platform X that he went over in detail their “joint global efforts to get more ‘Patriot’ air defense systems and missiles to Ukraine as soon as possible.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (R) attend a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting on Capri Island, April 18, 2024. 

Gregorio Borgia | Afp | Getty Images

Kuleba said the officials had “both emphasized the urgent need for the U.S. Congress to pass the supplemental aid package for Ukraine” that’s worth around $61 billion.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said he had also met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Thursday, stating on X that “we are counting on the swift unblocking of the aid package for Ukraine in Congress, including financial assistance.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Wednesday that Russian forces were gaining an upper hand in the war because Ukraine did not have the weaponry and air defense systems it needs.

“The Russian army feels its strength in almost everything related to the armed compоnent. And it is precisely because of this strength – in artillery, in equipment, in the ability to operate in the sky – that they are putting pressure on us at the front and are gradually moving,” he told EU leaders via videolink.

“Putin now hopes that he will succeed in his counteroffensive, and the only root of this hope is the shortage of weapons among our soldiers,” he said.

Zelenskyy said Kyiv was working with the U.S. “to get the proper decision of the Congress on the American support package” and asked European leaders to “engage in communication with our American partners to make their support really happen.”

— Holly Ellyatt

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