Ukraine decries ‘world’s weakness’ after Russia’s latest deadly strike on Kharkiv

Seven killed and more than 20 hurt as Ukraine seeks six more Patriot air defence systems

Ukraine said at least seven people were killed and more than 20 hurt in “heinous” Russian missile strikes on the eastern city of Kharkiv and surrounding areas, prompting Kyiv to renew calls for urgent deliveries of more air defence systems from the West.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the “world’s weakness” allowed Moscow’s military to continue bombarding Kharkiv, the country’s second city, which is home to some 1.3 million people and located just 35km from the Russian border.

“At this moment, seven people are known to have died,” Kharkiv governor Oleh Synehubov said on Thursday afternoon after visiting the smouldering ruins of the Vivat printing house in the regional capital, which was hit by at least one of about 10 missiles fired from inside Russia.

“All of them were civilians, all of them were employees of a well-known firm that printed magazines, newspapers and other publications. About 50 people were working there at the time of the enemy strikes.”


At least 16 people were also injured in the attack on Kharkiv city, and at least seven were wounded in strikes on the nearby towns of Liubotyn and Zolochiv.  A later attack by heavy air-launched bombs on the town of Derhachi, 12km from the regional capital, injured at least 13 people.

“Russian terrorists are taking advantage of Ukraine’s lack of sufficient air defence protection and reliable capability to destroy terrorist launchers at their exact locations, which are close to our borders. And this weakness is not ours, but the world’s, which has not dared to deal with terrorists in the way they deserve,” Mr Zelenskiy said.

Kyiv has voiced deep frustration over the West’s slow delivery of weapons, the refusal of some states to part with air defences systems that are sitting in storage, and with the demand of many countries – including the United States – that arms they provide must not be used against military targets in Russia.

Ukraine says Russia was able to launch fresh ground assaults on Kharkiv region this month because Kyiv’s forces were not allowed to use western-supplied weapons to strike thousands of troops and armour gathered just over the border.

“This heinous attack must remind everyone around the world that Ukraine still urgently needs seven Patriot systems. We are very grateful to Germany for announcing one additional system. But getting six more as soon as possible remains critical not only for Ukraine’s survival but for peace in Europe,” said Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, referring to an advanced US-made air defence system.

“Every day of delay and debate not only costs lives but also brings the possibility of a larger war in Europe closer… They [Patriots] are needed now, not tomorrow. Unfortunately, mere words of solidarity do not intercept Russian missiles.”

Russia says it attacks only military targets and claimed to have struck a rail junction in Kharkiv region through which 10 Ukrainian tanks were being transported.

Ukraine claims to have destroyed a Russian warship in occupied Crimea and to have hit advanced Russian air defence with missile strikes in recent days.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

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