G7 eyes more air defense for Ukraine as fighting rages

KYIV: Russian missiles, artillery and drones hammered targets in eastern and southern Ukraine, Ukraine’s general staff said, as world economic powers pledged to strengthen Kiev’s military capabilities with an emphasis on air defense.
The Group of Seven vowed to “address Ukraine’s urgent needs” after the President Volodymyr Zelensky called upon modern tanks, artillery and long-range weapons to counter the devastating Russian invasion.
Zelenskyy also urged G7 leaders gathered in a virtual meeting to back his idea of ​​convening a special global peace summit dedicated to bringing peace to his country.
The summit would focus on the implementation of Kiev’s 10-point peace plan which insists, among other things, on the withdrawal by Russia of all its troops from Ukraine and on no territorial concessions from Kiev.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday he would be “open-minded” about supplying Ukraine with longer-range missiles to target Russian drone launch sites that have hit infrastructure if Russia continues to target civilian areas.
The American President Joe Biden told Zelenskyy on Sunday that Washington’s priority was to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians, but the war has displaced millions and killed thousands of non-combatants.
Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said “unbearable conditions” were likely to send another wave of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees to Europe over the winter.
In the latest fighting, Russian artillery pounded almost 20 settlements around the ruined eastern city of Bakhmutand there was a “massive bombardment” of the southern city Kherson which was liberated by Ukrainian forces last month, Ukrainian military and civilian officials said Monday.
Reuters could not independently verify the latest battlefield accounts.
energy crisis
Zelenskyy also called on G7 leaders to help Ukraine secure an additional 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas in light of severe energy shortages as millions languish without power in the freezing cold.
Sergey Kovalenko, the head of YASNO, which supplies electricity to Kyiv, said on his Facebook page that limiting electricity consumption in the capital remains important.
Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa resumed suspended operations on Monday after Russia used Iranian-made drones to strike two power plants two days earlier. Electricity is slowly being restored for some 1.5 million people, grid operator Ukrenergo said.
Separately, European Union foreign ministers agreed to invest an additional €2 billion ($2.1 billion) in a fund that was used to pay for military support to Ukraine, after that it was largely exhausted. More money may be added in the future.
There are no peace talks and no end in sight to the conflict, Europe’s biggest since World War II, and which Moscow describes as a “special military operation” against security threats posed by his neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies call this an unprovoked imperialist land grab.
Russia does not yet see a “constructive” approach from the United States on the Ukrainian conflict, the RIA news agency said on Monday, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin.
fierce fighting
In a context of setbacks for the Russian forces, President Vladimir Poutine will not hold his annual year-end televised press conference this month, an event he has used to show his mastery of the issues and his stamina.
Ukraine says Russian forces are suffering huge losses in a brutal deep war on the eastern front, where Moscow is fighting to take full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, two of four territories the Kremlin claims to have annexed in votes rejected by most countries as illegal.
A senior US military official said Russia was burning so much ammunition it was using 40-year-old cartridges with high failure rates.
The fighting is also taking a heavy toll on Ukrainian troops.
“There are days when there are a lot of serious injuries: four or five amputations at a time,” Oleksii, a 35-year-old military doctor who declined to give his full name, told Reuters at a military hospital in eastern Ukraine.
There have been unverified reports on social media of an attack on a bridge behind the front lines in the Russian-occupied town of Melitopol, considered vital to Russia’s defense of territory it holds in the south, including Crimea.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in the Zaporizhzhia region, shared a video on his Telegram channel of what he called a bridge and blamed Ukrainian “terrorists” for the damage. Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of Melitopol, also shared a video showing damage to what appeared to be the same bridge.
Reuters could not independently confirm the information.

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