Former US ambassador to Nato Kurt Volker has urged the West to “really step up efforts to help Ukraine get better air defences” after dozens of missiles hit civilian areas across Ukraine on Monday morning. Following an explosion on a 12-mile bridge into Crimea on Saturday morning, Russia carried out devastating long-range attacks on the city Zaporizhzhya in the south on Sunday before launching 75 missiles on Monday morning. The missiles hit the capital of Kyiv, as well as the cities of Lviv, Ternopil and Zhytomyr in the west, Dnipro and Kremenchuk in central Ukraine and Kharkiv in the east. Ukraine’s defence ministry said their air forces had shot down 41 of the cruise missiles but at least five people had been killed in the capital alone from those that could not be intercepted.
Asked if he thought the mass bombings against Ukrianian cities on Monday morning were “inevitable” following the Crimean bridge explosion on Saturday, Mr Volker said: “Well, they were certainly predictable.
“This is what all of us were saying Putin would do. He has very few recourses on land. He cannot take territory, he cannot hold territory, but he can lob bombs at Ukrianian cities to kill civilians.
“This is what everyone anticipated he would do and it underscores why the West needs to really step up efforts to help Ukraine get better air defences. It is something we have made progress on but there is a lot more that we can do.”
Mr Volker added: “This is Russia lashing out as it is being defeated. I think we need to be prepared for that and just help Ukraine defend itself more.
“This is an all out war by Russia against Ukraine. Well, Ukraine has every right and reason to defend itself.”
Russia struck cities across Ukraine during rush hour on Monday morning, killing civilians and destroying infrastructure in apparent revenge after President Vladimir Putin declared an explosion on the bridge to Crimea to be a terrorist attack.
Cruise missiles tore into busy intersections, parks and tourist sites in the centre of downtown Kyiv, with an intensity unseen even when Russian forces attempted to capture the capital early in the war.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the rush hour attacks appeared to have been deliberately timed to kill people.
In Kyiv, the body of a man in jeans lay in a street at a major intersection, surrounded by flaming cars. In a park, a soldier cut through the clothes of a woman who lay in the grass to try to treat her wounds. Two other women were bleeding nearby.
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“The air raid sirens do not subside throughout Ukraine. There are missiles hitting. Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded.”
He later said the strikes had two main targets: energy infrastructure, and people. He added: “Such a time and such targets were specially chosen to cause as much damage as possible.”
Towards the end of September, Mr Zelensky thanked the United States for heeding urgent calls for sophisticated air defence systems. Ukraine received the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) that they had requested for several months, fearing the type of attack that Russia launched on Monday morning.
But, having thanked US President Joe Biden, Mr Zelensky added: “But believe me, it’s not even nearly enough to cover the civilian infrastructure, schools, hospitals, universities, homes of Ukrainians.”
In light of Monday morning’s attacks, it is expected Mr Zelensky will make further calls for more air defence systems.
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