Russia bombards Kyiv as Zelenskyy calls for more air defences

Firefighters work near the crater at the site after Russian attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 21.
Firefighters work near the crater at the site after Russian attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 21. Copyright Vadim Ghirda/AP
Copyright Vadim Ghirda/AP
By Euronews with AP
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Olaf Scholz says Europe will use frozen Russian profits to arm Ukraine as the country undergoes another day of heavy bombardment.

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Russia fired 31 ballistic and cruise missiles at Kyiv before dawn on Thursday in the first attack on the Ukrainian capital in 44 days, according to local officials – this as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed for new international help shoring up his country's air defences.

Ukraine’s air force said Russia launched two ballistic missiles and 29 cruise missiles against the capital.

Residents of Kyiv were woken up by loud explosions around 5 am as the missiles arrived at roughly the same time from different directions, said Serhii Popko, head of the Kyiv City Administration.

An 11-year-old girl and a 38-year-old man were hospitalised, the city administration said. Eight other people sustained light injuries, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko. Ukraine's Emergency Service said around 80 people were evacuated from their homes.

The attack came after repeated Ukraine aerial strikes on Russia's Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened on Wednesday to “respond in kind” to the attacks.

Meanwhile, a Russian missile hit an industrial area in Ukraine's northern city of Kharkiv, killing at least five people and injuring eight while causing a major fire in a printing house, local authorities said.

The mayor of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, said five others were missing after the strike. In a later posting on Telegram at about 11 pm local time, he said Kharkiv had come under fresh shelling, with explosions in the city.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the strike underscored the lack of proper air defences in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, and elsewhere, particularly in northern regions near the Russian border.

The Kharkiv region, which borders Russia to the north and lies close to the frontline, has suffered regular drone and missile attacks during Russia's two-year-old invasion.

Olaf Scholz Backs Decision To Buy Weapons From Outside EU

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed on Wednesday decisions to allow the use of European funds to buy weapons from outside Europe for Ukraine.

"This is about solidarity and not economic policy," he said while speaking to the German parliament in Berlin ahead of the European Union summit.

That should also go for windfall profits from frozen Russian assets, which he said could bring up to €5 billion this year and in the coming years, Scholz said.

Those resources should be used for ammunition and weapons that are important for Ukraine now, "and not for all sorts of general things that one might also want," he said.

Scholz emphasised his recent discussions with the French and Polish leaders.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech at the German parliament Bundestag in Berlin ahead of a EU summit.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech at the German parliament Bundestag in Berlin ahead of a EU summit.Markus Schreiber/AP

"We will support Ukraine for as long as it is necessary; we will at the same time ensure that NATO does not become a party to this conflict, and we will not accept a dictated peace at Ukraine’s expense," he said.

The German leader also pointed to the importance of stepping up weapons production, and noted a recent agreement to build production capacity in Ukraine with partners there.

Germany, France and Poland vowed Friday to procure more weapons for Kyiv and step up production of military equipment along with partners in Ukraine, promising that Ukraine can rely on the trio of European powers as it tries to overcome a shortage of military resources.

"We stand together – Germany and France, the Weimar Triangle, the whole European Union, and that is the message we are sending to Russia with all these decisions," Scholz said.

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"If the Russian president thinks he just has to sit out this war and we will weaken in our support, then he has miscalculated," he added.

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