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Zelensky calls for more air defence support as 17 die in Russian attack on Chernihiv

Kiev : Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for more air defence support from Western partners after a Russian missile attack killed at least 17 people in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Wednesday. There were also more than 60 injured, including several children.

“This would not have happened if Ukraine had received sufficient air defence and if the world had been determined enough to counter Russian terror,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram.

The Ukrainians do not lack determination in their fight, he added.

“We need sufficient determination from our partners and sufficient support that reflects this determination,” Zelensky said.

Due to a lack of air defence systems and ammunition, the Russians are now destroying many important objects in Ukraine, said Zelensky, referring to the Trypilska thermal power plant near Kiev, which is lying in ruins.

A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council is to take place on Friday at the request of Kiev, the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced. The top NATO official was responding directly to Zelensky’s plea.

NATO defence ministers and Zelensky are to take part, Stoltenberg said. Details were not announced if the meeting is to take in person or via videoconference.

Stoltenberg also stressed that supporting Ukraine was more important than alliance members meeting NATO targets for supplies of weapons and ammunition.

After months of obstruction, the Republican leader of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, said he expected a vote on further US aid for Ukraine on Saturday evening.

In the event of approval, the Senate would still have to approve the package. It is considered likely that the upper chamber, which is led by the Democrats, will support the project.

Johnson wrote to his party colleagues that he would like to see the aid for Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia, in the form of a loan. Details were initially unclear.

“The House must pass the package this week and the Senate should quickly follow. I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement on Wednesday.

Earlier, Chernihiv Governor Vyacheslav Chaus said that three missiles struck near the city centre and that civilian infrastructure was damaged.

He spoke of a terrible morning. It later became known that Russia is said to have used the Iskander mobile missile system for the attack. The range of the system is around 500 kilometres.

According to official reports, a hotel, the district hospital, the main university building and several multi-storey residential buildings were hit, and many cars also went up in flames.

A total of 16 buildings were damaged, according to Mayor Oleksandr Lomako. In most of them, windows were broken by the blast wave. However, some houses also suffered severe damage.

Rescue workers searched under the rubble for other victims of the attack. The police said there were six missing. Due to the large number of injured, the local health authorities have called on the population to donate blood.

Chernihiv is located around 150 kilometres north of Kiev, not far from the border with Russia.

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Chernihiv was attacked but not captured. In the past two years it has been subject to frequent Russian artillery fire and aerial assaults.

The Russian Ministry of Defence did not go into detail about the missile strike in Chernihiv in its daily situation report. It merely stated that the air and missile forces had fought Ukrainian units and military technology.

Meanwhile, Ukraine attacked several targets in Russia and on the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia with drones and missiles.

According to a report by the RBC-Ukraine news agency, one of the targets of the drones on Wednesday was an aircraft factory in Kazan.

Tupolev 22M and 160M strategic bombers are built and repaired at the plant, which is almost 1,000 kilometres from Ukrainian-held territory.

Several explosions were reportedly heard near the factory site. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, a drone of an aircraft-like type was intercepted over the republic of Tatarstan.

Ukrainian media reported another attack which targeted a radar station near the town of Kovylkino in the republic of Mordovia, around 600 kilometres from the Ukrainian border. The Russian Ministry of Defence said this drone attack was also repelled.

Local reports said explosions were heard at a military airfield near Dzhankoi on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

According to Ukrainian reports, two US ATACMS missiles hit the ground. A Russian S-400 air defence system, including radar equipment and several launchers, is said to have been destroyed. Several Russian soldiers were killed or injured, according to reports from Ukraine. There was no independent confirmation of this.

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