Zelenskyy Calls On West To Supply Air Defense As Russian Strikes Intensify


(RFE/RL) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Western allies to supply his country with air-defense systems as Russian air attacks against Ukrainian cities intensify ahead of a likely summer offensive.

Zelenskiy made the request in a video posted to X, formerly Twitter, on April 7, a day after two Russian strikes on Kharkiv in Ukraine’s northeast that killed eight civilians and injured at least 10.

“Ukraine clearly lacks sufficient air-defense systems and this is evident to all of our partners,” Zelenskiy said. “There are air-defense systems around the world that can help. Only political will is required to transfer them to Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian leader called the situation in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, “very harsh,” adding that Russia was dropping guided aerial bombs on it nearly every day.

Kharkiv’s high-voltage network facility was hit by drones overnight, causing power to be cut to some customers. Meanwhile, four people were killed and several apartment blocks badly damaged in an April 4 drone attack.

Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said last week that Kharkiv, which lies near the Russian border, is the most likely target for a new Russian offensive expected in May or June.

Russia has stepped up air and ground attacks along the 1,000-kilometer front to take advantage of Ukraine’s shortfall in ammunition, weapons, and troops. Russia is seeking to deplete Ukraine’s weapons stockpile ahead of the offensive, experts have said.

The United States, the biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine, has halted shipments to Kyiv since the start of the year due to political gridlock in Congress. But there are now signs a bipartisan deal may be near as the weapons deficit in Ukraine becomes critical.

House Speaker Mike Johnson said he planned to bring a $60 billion Ukraine aid bill held up by Republicans since October to the floor as early as this week. The Pentagon has said it would be ready to ship weapons as soon as the legislation is approved.

While Congress debates the aid bill, Ukraine is doing what it can to protect its cities.

Russia fired 17 Shahed drones and 10 missiles, and carried out 88 air strikes overnight, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said on April 7, adding that Ukrainian defense forces destroyed all 17 of the drones.

However, a Russian attack on the frontline town of Hulyaypole in the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region killed three civilians.

“Two men and a woman died under the rubble of their own house, which was hit by a Russian shell,” local Governor Ivan Fedorov said on the Telegram messaging app.

Fedorov said another person was wounded when Russian forces shelled the town with a Grad multiple-rocket launcher.

More than 100 Ukrainian villages came under Russian artillery fire in the Chernihiv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Luhansk, Mykolayiv, and Zaporizhzhya regions, according to the General Staff.

The situation is “difficult and tense” around the frontline city of Chasiv Yar, where Russian units were “using infantry backed by armored fighting vehicles” and “warplanes” to attack the area, said Oleh Kalashnikov, spokesman for a Ukrainian Army brigade deployed in the area.

“But all their attacks have been repelled. They are in retreat,” Kalashnikov said.

According to the General Staff’s assessment, 57 combat clashes took place between Ukrainian troops and the invading Russian forces during the past day.

Ukraine repelled 26 Russian attacks in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and also launched attacks on Russian positions in 14 areas, inflicting “losses in manpower and equipment,” it said.

According to the daily bulletin, Russian forces had suffered 820 casualties and also lost 17 tanks, 54 armored vehicles, and 54 artillery systems over the past day. The claims cannot be independently verified.

Ukrainian drones, meanwhile, attacked the Russian-held Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant on April 7, damaging a truck parked near the station’s canteen, Russian state news agency TASS reported, citing the plant authorities. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Russia said that its forces repelled 11 Ukrainian counterattacks in Donetsk’s Avdiyidka area and two counteroffensives in the city of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region.

Neither side’s claims could be verified.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *