Ukraine seeks to strengthen its air defense to protect its battered energy network | Russia-Ukraine War News

Ukrainian leader asks for help to repel airstrikes and warns that Russia has destroyed half of Ukraine's energy production capacity.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on allies to increase their air defense support to Ukraine to help protect his country's energy infrastructure.

Speaking Tuesday at a conference in Germany on rebuilding Ukraine, Zelenskyy said Russia has destroyed half of his country's electricity generating capacity. Seven more Patriot missile systems, as well as other air defenses, are needed to allow the military to protect Ukraine's urban centers from the missile storm, he said.

The two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin marks the start of a week of intense diplomacy for the Ukrainian president, which will also see him travel to the Group of Seven (G7) summit, involving key Western allies. of his country, and a peace summit in Switzerland.

The German hosts say it will bring together 2,000 people from national and local politics, business and other areas, arguing that the task of supporting Ukraine's recovery is too big for governments alone.

Continued Russian attacks on Ukraine's power grid in recent weeks have forced energy companies to implement rolling blackouts across the country.

Zelenskyy told the conference that next month Ukraine will need equipment to repair heating and electricity plants that are currently out of service.

“This will allow us to respond to the situation here and now,” he said.

In total, nine gigawatts of electricity generation capacity have been destroyed – including 80 percent of thermal power and a third of hydropower – while peak consumption in Ukraine last winter was 18 gigawatts, Zelenskyy said. .

Energy, he stated, continues to be “one of the [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's main objectives.

The Kremlin said Tuesday that attacks on energy facilities are justified because they are aimed in part at disrupting the supply of electricity to military facilities.

Amnesty International has called attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure a war crime.

Helping reduce attacks

Ihor Terekhov, mayor of Kharkiv, added his support to the call for increased air defense support, saying on Tuesday that the ability of Ukrainian forces to launch airstrikes inside Russia has helped reduce the number of attacks on his besieged city. after weeks of intense hostilities. bombing.

“This has helped,” Terekhov said in an interview with Reuters.

However, Russia dropped three guided bombs in Kharkiv on Monday, damaging at least two houses, according to local officials, underscoring the continuing threat.

The city and surrounding region have long been the target of Russian attacks, but they had become more intense in recent months, affecting civil and energy infrastructure.

In recent months, Moscow's forces have made slow but steady gains along several parts of the sprawling eastern front and are attempting to advance further into the northeastern Kharkiv region.

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