Ukraine said Wednesday, Oct. 12, it had reclaimed more territory in the south and welcomed a Western pledge to deliver air defence systems to Kyiv “as fast as we can” after days of intense Russian missile strikes.

A US-led group of around 50 countries held talks at the NATO headquarters in Brussels and vowed to deliver new anti-missile systems to Kyiv.

Ukraine is reeling from Russian attacks that have left scores dead and wounded as well as villages and towns without power and hot water across the country.

“The systems will be provided, as fast as we can physically get them there,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said after the meeting, without giving details.

In a further show of Western solidarity, the G7 vowed to “stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes”, while International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva pledged financial help for the sake of “moving with you in the direction of a strong Ukraine”.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has described the Russian missile attacks as an act of terrorism and has pressed the West for an “air shield”, welcomed the promised anti-missile systems.

“The more audacious and cruel Russian terror becomes, the more obvious it is to the world that helping Ukraine to protect the sky is one of the most important humanitarian tasks for Europe today,” Zelensky said in his daily address to the nation.

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‘Come back to the table’

As Ukraine faces a barrage of Russian aerial assaults, Britain on Thursday, Oct. 13, said it would supply drones and, for the first time, rockets capable of shooting down cruise missiles.

“The AMRAAM rockets… will be provided in the coming weeks for use with the NASAMS air defence systems pledged by the US,” the British defence ministry said in a statement.

In an interview, French President Emmanuel Macron also promised air defences.

“We’re going to deliver… radars, systems and missiles to protect them from these attacks,” Macron said, adding that France was also negotiating to send another six Caesar mobile artillery units.

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It was not immediately clear whether the weapons promised by Macron were part of the commitment made in Brussels or separate.

Macron also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to resume negotiations with Kyiv.

“Today, first of all, Vladimir Putin must stop this war, respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and come back to the table for talks,” Macron told broadcaster France 2.

The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to condemn Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine, sending what US President Joe Biden said was a “clear message” that Moscow could not erase a sovereign state.

‘Under the rubble’

Since Monday, Oct.10, Russia has pummelled Ukraine with missiles, damaging energy facilities nationwide in attacks that Putin said were retaliation for last week’s deadly explosion at a Crimean bridge.

That blast ripped through a road and rail link Moscow uses to transport military equipment.

In the early hours Thursday, Russia struck the Ukrainian capital region with Iranian-made “kamikaze drones”, according to an official.

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“Another attack by kamikaze drones on critical infrastructure facilities,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, without further details.

Earlier, a bombing blitz smashed into the Black Sea port city of Mykolaiv, obliterating the top floors of a five-storey residential building.

“(The) rest is under the rubble. Rescuers are working on the spot,” Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych wrote on Telegram.

And in the town of Avdiivka, Russian strikes killed at least eight people at a market, according to the Ukraine-appointed chief of the region.

The Russian military meanwhile said it had fended off Ukrainian attacks in the eastern Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv regions.

But in the latest setback for Putin, Kyiv said Wednesday that it had retaken five more settlements in the southern region of Kherson — one of the four territories Moscow said it annexed in September.

For Ukrainians trapped on the frontline, fears over the relentless exchange of fire are now compounded by the prospect of a winter without power or water.

“Firewood… how can I get it?” said Oleksandra Pylypenko from the eastern town of Bakhmut.

“I don’t know how we’ll survive.”

‘Need more artillery’

Some of the anti-aircraft defence systems pledged by Western allies began arriving in Ukraine this week.

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On the frontline in Donetsk, Western weapons have helped boost Ukrainian morale and the abilities of Kyiv’s forces.

“We definitely need more artillery,” said an officer who gave his name as “Sergiy” with Ukraine’s 5th Regiment on a hill overlooking Russian-held Gorlivka in Donetsk.

“When it comes to artillery, they still have an advantage so we can’t return fire equally,” he added.

“We are firing more precisely now, but with fewer strikes.”

With Russia’s bombing blitz escalating fear of an atomic disaster, UN nuclear agency chief Rafael Grossi arrived in Kyiv for talks on setting up a nuclear safety and protection zone around Ukraine’s Russian-held Zaporizhzhia plant.

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