Ukraine accuses West of lacking ‘political will’ to prevent deadly Russian strikes

Missile attacks on Kharkiv region kill at least 11 people and injure 36

Kyiv said a “lack of political will” among western leaders was allowing Russia to kill and terrorise Ukrainian civilians and make gains on the battlefield as fierce fighting and missile strikes continued in the Kharkiv region, killing at least 11 people and injuring 36 others on Sunday.

Ukrainian officials said a pregnant woman was among at least six people killed when two missiles hit a lakeside recreation area on the outskirts of Kharkiv city, Ukraine’s second-biggest metropolis, which is home to about 1.3 million people. The second missile reportedly hit about 20 minutes after the first, in an apparent “double-tap” strike targeting first responders. Police and medics were among the injured.

At least five people were also killed about 140km to the east, in a rocket strike on two villages of the Kupiansk district of Kharkiv region.

“Almost every hour, there are new reports of Russian terrorist strikes. Missiles, bombs and artillery — the only thing that allows Russia to continue its aggression is its ability to terrorise our cities and communities, killing ordinary people,” said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.


“The world can put an end to Russian terror. To achieve this, the lack of political will among leaders must be overcome.”

Mr Zelenskiy said two US-made Patriot air defence systems for the Kharkiv region would “fundamentally change the situation” and stronger air defence weapons “in our other cities, as well as sufficient support for our warriors on the front lines, will ensure the defeat of Russian terror”.

Ukraine has asked for more air defence systems and other weapons for many months, with only limited success. Mr Zelenskiy has said arms that his country could put to daily, life-saving use are simply “gathering dust” in the warehouses of western countries that refuse to part with them.

“Today, we have about 25 per cent of what we need to defend Ukraine. I’m talking about air defence,” he told AFP in an interview published on Saturday, in which he also restated his belief that western support for Kyiv is constrained by leaders’ fears over the geopolitical chaos that could result from Russia’s defeat.

Kyiv’s forces spent about six months waiting for the US Congress to agree to send them more military aid, during which Russia pushed forward in the Donetsk region and prepared for a fresh attack on Kharkiv province that it launched on May 10th.

About 10,000 residents have been evacuated over the last 10 days from border areas of the Kharkiv region and heavy fighting continued on Sunday near the town of Vovchansk. Russia claimed its troops were still advancing, while Ukrainian military spokesmen said Kyiv’s forces were repelling attacks and retaking some positions.

Mr Zelenskiy said “the biggest advantage” for Russia was a ban imposed by many states, including the US, on Ukrainian forces using western-supplied weapons to strike military targets inside Russia.

Ukraine also has a shortage of soldiers and in recent days introduced new laws to make more people eligible for conscription and to allow some convicts to join the army in exchange for parole.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe