Zelensky renews long-range arms call after attack

Author: Editors Desk, Aleks Phillips, BBC News Source: BBC News:
June 30, 2024 at 06:39
Officials say two missiles struck Vilniansk, leaving large craters and killing seven. EPA
Officials say two missiles struck Vilniansk, leaving large craters and killing seven. EPA


The Ukrainian president says more missiles and air defences are needed after a Russian strike kills seven.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has renewed his appeal for more long-range weapons and air defences after a missile attack killed seven people including two children.

The Russian attack on the town of Vilniansk, near the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, also injured 31 others, Ukrainian officials said. 

In total, at least 11 civilians were killed and a further 37 wounded in missile attacks across Ukraine on Saturday, Reuters reported.

"Our cities and communities suffer daily from such Russian strikes," Mr Zelensky wrote in a post on Telegram.

But he added that there were "ways to overcome this", including "destroying Russian missile launchers, striking with real long-range capability and increasing the number of modern air defence systems".

He posted images from Vilniansk showing a large crater near a smouldering building, as well as several bodies laid out on the ground.

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said two missiles hit the town, damaging infrastructure, a shop and residential buildings.

The Russian defence ministry has not publicly commented on the attack. 

On its own Telegram channel, it posted footage of a missile strike on a railway it claimed was near the settlement of Ukrainka - less than six miles (10km) from Vilniansk - and was being used by Ukrainian forces to unload arms and military equipment.

Mr Kostin also said four people were killed and seven wounded in artillery strikes on three villages near the frontline in the eastern Donetsk region.

Western allies have already supplied Ukraine with a number of long-range weapons - including Scalp missiles from France, Storm Shadow from the UK and ATACMS from the US - as well as US-made Patriot air defence systems.

However, the flow of weapons from the US - Ukraine's largest arms supplier by far - falterered earlier in 2024 after a bill designating further military aid was held up in Congress. 

The legislation was eventually passed in April, and air defence systems and long-range missiles were arriving on front lines the following month.

But Ukraine has blamed losses of life and Russian territorial gains in the interim on shortages of ammunition and air defence missiles the delay caused, while Mr Zelensky has continued to call for further support to win the war.

On Telegram, he thanked allies for their help, but said decisions to send further weaponry "must be accelerated" as "any delay in decisions in this war means the loss of human lives."

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