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NATO chief says alliance working to send more air defense systems to Ukraine


Firefighters work on a building that was partially destroyed in a Russian bombardment in Chernihiv, Ukraine, April 17, 2024.
Firefighters work on a building that was partially destroyed in a Russian bombardment in Chernihiv, Ukraine, April 17, 2024.

NATO is working to send more air defense systems to Ukraine, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday, noting that Ukraine had an "urgent, critical need for more air defense."

"We have compiled data about the different air defense systems we have in NATO and focused on the Patriot systems. And we are working with allies to ensure that they redeploy some of their systems to Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.

He made the comments to reporters at a G7 foreign ministers' meeting in Italy, which Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also attended.

A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council is set to take place Friday, Stoltenberg said, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to participate virtually.

"I am encouraged by the commitment and the determination by NATO allies to stand up for Ukraine," Stoltenberg said. He added that there were encouraging signs that the U.S. Congress might vote this weekend on an aid package for Ukraine worth $60.84 billion.

"It's of vital importance that NATO allies sustain and step up their support. We will focus today on air defense. There's an urgent, critical need for more air defense," Stoltenberg said.

Ukraine's military said Thursday it shot down all 13 aerial drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks, while Russia's military reported destroying 20 Ukrainian drones.

The Ukrainian air force said its air defenses intercepted drones over the Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Poltava, Ternopil and Vinnytsia regions.

In a Telegram post, Serhiy Lysak, the regional governor in Dnipropetrovsk, reported damage to two homes, but no injuries.

Ivano-Frankivsk's governor, Svitlana Onyshchuk, said on Telegram that falling debris from the downed drones started multiple fires.

The bulk of Ukraine's aerial attack focused on the Belgorod region along the border between the two countries.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it destroyed 16 drones and two missiles over Belgorod, where the regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported damage to a home and one person injured.

Russian air defenses also shot down three drones over the Rostov region and one more over Voronezh, the Defense Ministry said.

Vasily Golubev, the governor of Rostov, said falling debris damaged an industrial building and injured one person.

G7 meetings

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba said Thursday that pushing allies to provide Ukraine with more air defenses was his only focus in talks with foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrial nations in Italy.

Speaking before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Kuleba said getting deliveries of air defense aid is "of fundamental importance."

Blinken said the talks are happening at a "critical time for Ukraine" and that supporters need to provide Ukraine with "what it needs to continue to effectively defend itself against this Russian aggression."

"If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is allowed to proceed with impunity, we know he won't stop at Ukraine, and we can safely predict that his aggression will continue," Blinken said. "Other would-be aggressors around the world will take note and unleash their own aggressions, and we will have a world of conflict, not a world of peace and security."

The U.S. State Department said Blinken would also raise U.S. concerns about China's support for Russia's defense industry.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters Tuesday that over the past months, the United States has observed materials being transferred from China to Russia, which is using the materials to rebuild its defense industrial base and produce arms that are showing up on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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