US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called on other countries to provide US-designed Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine, which is having trouble staving off constant Russian aerial attacks on its critical infrastructure and civilian areas.

Austin has sought more air defense batteries for Ukraine from other nations, he told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee during a hearing on April 30.

“There are countries that have Patriots, and so what we are doing is continuing to engage those countries,” Austin said. “I have talked to the leaders of several countries myself in the last two weeks, encouraging them to give up more capability.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky told NATO members on April 19 that Ukraine needs at least seven more Patriot systems to counter Russian air strikes.

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“President Putin must be brought down to earth, and our sky must become safe again…And it depends fully on your choice... [the] choice whether we are indeed allies,” Zelensky said in his speech to the NATO-Ukraine Council that day.

In Europe, Spain, Greece, Germany the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, among others, have the Patriot systems – Austin didn’t specify which countries he has held discussions with regarding them.

Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Kyiv has identified 100 air defense systems based in allied countries and has asked for seven to keep his country safe.

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A situational map of the Kupiansk sector in Kharkiv region. (Courtesy of Michael MacKay)

Thirty-nine Russian attacks were recorded in northeastern Ukraine

There were 96 tactical engagements with Russian armed forces as of 6 p.m. Kyiv time, the General Staff of the Armed Forces (AFU) said in its daily operational update.

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Thirty-nine of them took place in the northeastern regions of Kharkiv and Luhansk.

Russia has been pushing toward Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region and several military experts say that Moscow wants to conquer Kharkiv, the second most populous city in Ukraine after Kyiv.

Earlier this month, Ukraine’s defense intelligence (HUR) said that rumors of an upcoming offensive to take the city are a “psychological operation.”

Over the past two months, Russia has specifically terrorized Kharkiv with bombardment, so the city – situated just miles from the Russian border – has had to rely on power from other regions in the country’s grid network.

Rolling blackouts occur in the city and power generators are used to keep lights on and businesses running.

The city was invaded in February 2022, but a group of territorial defense forces and a handful of military personnel repelled the attack to liberate the city.

Kharkiv’s main television tower was partially destroyed during a Russian aerial strike on April 22. It was conducted several minutes before Zelensky was scheduled to hold a telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden.

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“It is Russia’s clear intention to make the city uninhabitable,” Zelensky said after the conversation in an official readout.

Norway devoted $633 million more assistance to Ukraine this year

The legislature in Oslo voted on April 20 to increase its contributions to Ukraine’s defense by $633 million this year (about 7 billion Norwegian Krone), bringing its total budgeted assistance in 2024 to roughly $2 billion.

About $540 million of that latest installment is earmarked specifically for air defense systems, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said when announcing the agreement in the nation’s capital.

“I appreciate that the majority of these funds will be used to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense, which is our top priority for protecting lives,” President Zelensky posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“We value Norway’s unfaltering support, understanding of our pressing needs, and willingness to stand by our side in the most critical time,” he wrote.

At the equivalent of $527 billion, Norway has the world’s 30th largest economic output (GDP), roughly 2 percent of that of the US. However, Norway has the world’s fourth-largest GDP per capita.

According to a February 2024 report published by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Norway stood in ninth place overall for financial support for Ukraine, behind only the US, EU institutions, Britain, Germany, Poland, Canada, France and Japan.

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Kyiv allocates money to purchase 300,000 more drones

Ukraine is spending what is the equivalent of $390 million more to procure unmanned aerial vehicles for the war effort, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at a meeting with the Cabinet of Ministers on April 30.

“For the funds allocated today, 300,000 drones will be delivered to our security and defense forces,” he said.

The State Service of Special Communications and Information will receive those funds. The procurement buttresses the $1.08 billion that Kyiv already allocated for drones this year.

A mosaic of Hutsul dancers is being dismantled in the Russian-occupied city of Yevpatoria on the Crimean Peninsula. (Gyunduz Mamedov)

Russians destroy Ukrainian cultural mosaic in the Crimean city of Yevpatoria

A mosaic of Hutsul dancers native to the dwellers of the Carpathian Mountains was destroyed by occupying Russian authorities in the Crimean Peninsula, former Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Gyunduz Mamedov.

Located at a guesthouse in Yevpatoria on the peninsula, residents cherished the mosaic, Mamedov said.

It was demolished to construct a high-rise residential building, Mamedov said, and “such actions contradict international humanitarian law, according to which each party to a conflict must respect cultural heritage.”

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