More than fifty Western countries met on Wednesday to promise more weapons for Ukraine focusing on its need for air defences after Moscow launched its most intense missile strikes since the start of the war.
Opening the meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at the headquarters of NATO in Brussels, United States (US) Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Russia’s huge wave of missile attacks this week had laid bare the malice and cruelty of its war.
Austin also said Russian attacks using more than hundred missiles have killed at least twenty six people across Ukraine since Monday, when President Vladimir Putin ordered what he called retaliatory strikes against Ukraine for an explosion on a bridge.
Air raid sirens sounded across swaths of Ukraine for a third day on Wednesday and there were reports of some shelling, but no sign of a repeat of the intensive countrywide strikes of the previous 2 days.
The missiles have mostly targeted civilian electricity and heating infrastructure, while some hit busy roads, parks and tourist sites, including in the centre of Kyiv. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia’s missile attacks were a sign of weakness.
Germany has sent the first of four planned IRIS-T SLM air defence systems, while Washington said it would speed up the delivery of a promised NASAMS air defence system.
Energy crisis EU energy ministers were also meeting in Prague to work out ways to cope with an energy crisis caused by the war. On Wednesday, Polish pipeline operator PERN said it had detected a leak in one pipe in the Druzhba system that carries oil from Russia to Europe, though it said the cause was probably an accident.