Ukraine will ask G7 leaders for more support after devastating Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities.
US President Joe Biden has promised his Ukrainian colleague Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the US will supply the country with advanced air systems after Russia fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine including the capital Kiev.
Biden made the pledge in a phone call with Zelenskyy ahead of an emergency meeting of the Group of Seven to discuss support for Ukraine and how to hold Russia “accountable” for the attacks, which killed at least 14 people.
“President Biden pledged to continue to provide Ukraine with the support it needs to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems,” a White House statement said during the phone call.
Biden also told Zelenskyy that the United States and its allies and partners would continue to impose costs on Russia, “hold Russia accountable for its war crimes and atrocities, and provide Ukraine with security, economic and humanitarian assistance,” the White House said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had targeted “military command and communications facilities and energy infrastructure” in Monday’s attack, but Ukraine accused Moscow of indiscriminately hitting civilian areas.
Ukrainian authorities said Russia fired 84 missiles at 10 cities, 56 of which were neutralized by the air force.
The Russian attacks followed an explosion on Saturday that damaged parts of it strategically important Kerch bridge connecting Russia with the annexed Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for the explosion.
“Russia is looking to overwhelm the Ukrainian air defense,” Justin Crump, managing director of security consultancy Sibylline, told the BBC. “It’s something they’ve tried throughout the conflict, but never on this scale.”
The US has delivered security assistance to Ukraine worth more than $16.8 billion since Russia invaded the country on February 24.
Zelenskyy is due to speak to the G7 leaders at the top of Tuesday’s virtual meeting, which is due to start at 12:00 GMT. Analysts say he is likely to ask for more surface-to-air missiles to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses.
Tuesday’s discussion by G7 leaders is the first since Kyiv began a counter-offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine in recent weeks, which has seen the country reclaim large swathes of its territory from Russia.
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, who took over from Boris Johnson just over a month ago, will urge G7 leaders to remain resolute in their support for Ukraine, according to a statement from her office. Johnson was one of Kiev’s most prominent backers.
“The overwhelming international support for Ukraine’s struggle stands in stark opposition to Russia’s isolation on the international stage,” she will say.
“Their bravery in the face of the most brutal acts of violence has earned the people of Ukraine global admiration.
“No one wants peace more than Ukraine. And for our part, we must not waver one iota in our resolve to help them win it.”