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Russian missiles kill 7 in Ukraine's Kharkiv as Zelenskyy appeals for more weapons


A sapper inspects fragments of a Russian air bomb that hit a living area in Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 22, 2024.
A sapper inspects fragments of a Russian air bomb that hit a living area in Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 22, 2024.

Ukrainian officials said Russian attacks killed at least seven people Thursday and injured at least 28 others in the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the attack was "extremely cruel." He also expressed his exasperation at not getting enough air defense systems from Kyiv’s Western allies to defend Ukraine against such attacks.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba echoed Zelenskyy, saying the assault highlights Ukraine’s urgent need for additional U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems to protect Ukrainians from aerial bombardments.

"Unfortunately, mere words of solidarity do not intercept Russian missiles," he wrote on X.

Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram that Russia struck the area at least 15 times.

Kharkiv, a city of about 1 million people and the capital of the region of the same name, is located about 19 kilometers from the Russian border.

In recent weeks, Russia’s ground offensive has led to its troops capturing villages in the area. Looming over Ukraine are concerns that Russian forces are working to get within artillery range of the city of Kharkiv.

"The main focus [of the fighting] is on the entire border area," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Wednesday.

The Ukrainian president also criticized international partners for not permitting Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike missile launchers located in Russia.

"This weakness is not our weakness, but that of the world’s, which for the third year already has not dared to deal with the terrorists exactly as they deserve," he said.

In a Thursday interview with VOA’s Ukrainian Service, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said, "We don't encourage strikes outside of Ukraine's borders."

"We don’t enable such strikes beyond Ukraine’s borders. We understand that when it comes to using non-U.S. provided weapons, ultimately Ukraine will make its own decisions," Miller added.

The United States is preparing a $275 million military aid package for Ukraine, multiple officials told Reuters. The package, which could be announced as early as Friday, is expected to include 155mm artillery shells, precision aerial munitions and ground vehicles.

Meanwhile, in western Russia’s Belgorod region, officials reported damage Thursday from Ukrainian aerial attacks.

The Russia Defense Ministry said it destroyed 35 Ukrainian rockets and three aerial drones over Belgorod.

Belgorod Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram that Ukrainian attacks damaged a building and sparked a fire in Belgorod city.

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Gladkov also reported damage to multiple houses in two villages in the region.

Belgorod is located along the Russia-Ukraine border and is a frequent target of Ukrainian attacks.

Later Thursday, the head of the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula said that two bystanders were killed by a Ukrainian missile attack near the area’s main administrative center Simferopol.

Zelenskyy is set to attend the meeting of the Group of 7 leaders in June to make a new appeal for more aid, according to Thursday media reports.

G7 finance ministers, whose meeting in Italy will begin on Friday, are not expected to agree on details of a loan for Ukraine, officials said.

Washington has been advocating for its partners to agree to a loan that would be backed by future income from about $300 billion of Russian assets held in the West that were frozen not long after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the loan could add up to about $50 billion, but other G7 officials have been less open to the idea because of legal concerns.

Oleksii Kovalenko of VOA’s Ukrainian Service contributed to this report. Some information for this story came from Reuters and The Associated Press.

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