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Ukraine war: Holes exposed in Ukraine air defence, as Lavrov slams NATO

Ukrainian marines prepare their antiaircraft machine gun ZU-23 positions on the outskirts of Avdiivka, Ukraine, Monday, June 19, 2023.
Ukrainian marines prepare their antiaircraft machine gun ZU-23 positions on the outskirts of Avdiivka, Ukraine, Monday, June 19, 2023. Copyright Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy addresses Ukraine recovery conference

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged leaders to collectively rebuild following the "predatory" act of Russia's full-scale invasion. He made the comments while addressing the Ukraine conference in London, via video, on Wednesday. 

"We are united in defending freedom... in countries that will live freely," Zelenskyy said in a virtual address to a panel of dignitaries and diplomats. 

Zelenskyy thanked the UK and supporting world leaders for supporting the war-torn country and urged for a growth strategy "driven by values". 

"The rules that we are preparing must be preceded by confidence that what we build will not fall," he added. 

UK's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Russia's invasion has seen Ukraine's GDP go down by 29%. 

A recovery conference is underway in London to unlock €2.75 billion worth of loans from the World Bank to help in Ukrainian re-building.

The conference started on Wednesday and will run for two days. 

Ukraine downs Russian missiles, but some strike the targets

Ukrainian authorities said the country's air defences thwarted 32 of 35 Shahed exploding drones Russia launched early Tuesday. 

The bombardment exposed gaps in the country’s air protection after almost 16 months of war.

Russian forces mostly targeted the region around the Ukrainian capital in a nighttime attack lasting around three hours, officials said, with Ukrainian air defences shooting down about a dozen of them.

The attack was part of a wider bombardment of Ukraine that extended as far as the Lviv region in the west of the country near Poland.

The Iranian-made drones made it all the way to Lviv because of the inability of Ukraine's air defence assets to cover such a broad area, air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said.

Russia also struck the southern Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine with ballistic missiles.

Air defence systems are mostly dedicated to protecting major cities, key infrastructure facilities, including nuclear power plants, and the front line, according to Lviv Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi.

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Ukraine’s air defences have been reinforced with sophisticated weapons from its Western allies, increasing the success rate at knocking down incoming drones and missiles.

Pentagon accounting error means extra aid for Ukraine

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it overestimated the value of weapons it has sent to Ukraine by €5.7 billion over the past two years. 

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said a detailed review of the accounting error found that the military services used replacement costs rather than the book value of the equipment.

She said final calculations show there was an error of €3.3 billion in the current fiscal year and €2.4 billion in the 2022 fiscal year. 

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As a result, the department now has additional money in its coffers to use to support Ukraine as it pursues its counteroffensive against Russia.

“It’s just going to go back into the pot of money that we have allocated for the future Pentagon stock drawdowns," said Singh.

The Pentagon has repeatedly used presidential drawdown authority to pull weapons, ammunition and other equipment off the shelves, so that it can get to Ukraine far more quickly than going through a purchase process.

Based on previous estimates announced on June 13, the US had committed more than 36.7 billion euros in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded. 

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Russia pushes back on NATO Chief's comments

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pushed back against NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg's comments about the resolution of the war in Ukraine. 

Stoltenberg had previously warned against premature peace talks, saying freezing the war under unjust conditions for Ukraine is not an ideal solution. 

“If NATO once again declares that they are against freezing, as they say, the conflict in Ukraine, then they want to fight. Let them fight!” Lavrov told local media replying to the NATO chief's comments.  

Lavrov also accused the West of waging a war against Russia and that the country was ready for any turn of events.  

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“We have long understood NATO’s goals regarding the situation in Ukraine," he added. “These objectives were worked out a long time ago, after the state coup [in Ukraine]. NATO is trying to implement them now.”

Russia has repeatedly accused NATO and its allies of escalating the war by supplying Kyiv with sophisticated offensive weapons.

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