Russian attacks on eastern and southern Ukraine killed at least three people on Wednesday, March 27 officials said, as Kyiv called for more Patriot air defense systems to battle a surge in missile strikes.

Moscow has escalated aerial attacks on Ukraine in the past few weeks, targeting key infrastructure – including power stations.

In Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv, which has been reeling from power outages due to the strikes, officials said aerial bombing and shelling killed at least one person and injured 16 others.

“Four children are among the wounded. Apartment buildings were damaged. The number of victims may increase,” the region's governor Oleg Sinegubov said.

The governor of Ukraine's southern Kherson region, which is partially occupied by Russia, said one woman had been killed in a drone attack on the village of Mykhailivka.

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“A 61-year-old local resident was fatally wounded in her own home,” the official, Oleksandr Prokudin, wrote on social media.

And in the southeastern city of Nikopol, officials said artillery fire killed a 55-year-old man, while a ballistic missile strike on the coastal territory of Mykolaiv left eight wounded.

The Ukrainian air force said Russia had launched 13 Iranian-designed attack drones overnight and that 10 were downed over the Kharkiv region, the neighboring Sumy region and near the capital Kyiv.

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‘Little time’

During an online briefing on Wednesday, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called again for urgent deliveries of Western air defense systems he said were crucial in warding off the increase in attacks.

“The peculiarity of the current Russian attacks is the intensive use of ballistic missiles that can reach targets at extremely high speeds, leaving little time for people to take cover and causing significant destruction,” Kuleba said.

“Patriot and other similar systems are defensive by definition. They are designed to protect lives, not take them,” he said.

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President Volodymyr Zelensky was in the northeastern Sumy region bordering Russia on Wednesday, where he met with soldiers recovering from injuries and visited newly built defense lines.

“I inspected trenches, dugouts, firing and command and observation posts,” Zelensky wrote in a social media post. 

“We are strengthening our defenses,” he said.

Ukraine has been forced onto a defensive footing in the past few months as it struggles with ammunition shortages amid delays to a $60 billion aid package from Washington.

Its ground forces commander warned last week Russia was gathering over 100,000 soldiers in advance of what may be a major offensive this summer, as Moscow seeks to press its advantage on the battlefield.

Russia meanwhile announced that its air defense systems had shot down 18 rockets near the border city of Belgorod, which has been regularly targeted by Ukrainian attacks.

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said two people were wounded during the barrage and later drone attack.

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