Ukraine leader to make case to G7 for more arms after deadly Russia strikes

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a meeting of the National Security and Defence Council in Kyiv on Sept.30.

KYIV (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is expected to ask the leaders of the G7 group of nations to urgently supply Ukraine with weapons to defend itself from Russian missiles, a day after Moscow launched retaliatory strikes that killed 19 people.

U.S. President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders will convene virtually later on Tuesday to discuss what more they can do to support Ukraine and to listen to Zelenskiy who has called air defense systems his “number 1 priority,” something Biden has already promised to provide.

In the most widespread wave of air strikes away from the front lines since the war began, Russian missiles crashed across Ukraine early on Monday, hitting power generating facilities as well as non-strategic targets such as parks and tourist sites, leaving devastation, terror, and power cuts in their wake.

At least 19 people were killed and 105 wounded, emergency services officials said, in an attack that President Vladimir Putin framed as retaliation for what he said was the Ukrainian bombing on Saturday of the Kerch Bridge which links Russia to annexed Crimea.

Kyiv has not publicly taken responsibility for what Putin called a “terrorist act” that killed at least three civilians and destroyed parts of the bridge’s road segment which have been used to supply occupying Russian forces in Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials reported more strikes on Tuesday, including one on the southeastern town of Zaporizhzhia which killed at least one person.

Zelenskiy in a late Monday address said: “We will do everything to strengthen our armed forces. We will make the battlefield more painful for the enemy.”

As many as 301 settlements in the regions of Kyiv, Lviv, Sumy, Ternopil and Khmelnytsky remained without electricity on Tuesday morning.

Faced with blackouts, Ukraine has halted electricity exports to neighboring Moldova and the European Union, at a time when the continent already faces surging power prices that have stoked inflation and hampered industrial activity.

Belarus fears

G7 leaders may also warn Belarus, a close Russian ally, against closer involvement in the war after Minsk said on Monday it was deploying its soldiers with Russian forces near Ukraine in response to what it said was a clear threat to Belarus from Kyiv and its backers in the West.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told France Inter radio on Tuesday that G7 heads of state would probably warn Belarus, which is already used by Russia as a logistics base and as a platform from which to fire missiles, not to get more involved.

“Russia has crossed another line with a tactic that doesn’t involve fighting on the battlefield but carrying out indiscriminate bombings and since yesterday deliberately hitting civilian targets on all Ukrainian territory,” said Colonna.

“That is a violation of the rules of war and international law,” she added, saying that France had agreed to ramp up weapons supplies to Kyiv after Monday’s attack.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned Russia would respond to the West’s growing involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

“We warn and hope that they realize the danger of uncontrolled escalation in Washington and other Western capitals,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by RIA news agency on Tuesday.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, said more Western help to Ukraine raised the risk of a wider war.

“Such assistance, as well as providing Kyiv with intelligence, instructors and combat guidelines, leads to further escalation and increased the risks of a clash between Russia and NATO,” Antonov told media.

Russia suffered a diplomatic setback on Monday, as the U.N. General Assembly voted to reject its call for the 193-member body to allow a secret ballot this week in a debate over whether to condemn Moscow’s annexations of four partially occupied regions in Ukraine. Read full story

The president of the United Arab Emirates, a member of the group of oil producers known as OPEC+ that rebuffed the United States last week by announcing steep production cuts, will travel to Russia on Tuesday to meet Putin and push for “military de-escalation,” UAE state news agency WAM reported.