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Ukraine seeks jet fighters, lethal weapons to intensify counter-offensive

“For an effective air force, we need a total of around 160 combat jets,” Mr Zelensky said in a television interview with Portugal’s public broadcaster.

• September 1, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

In the face of significant losses in the counter-offensive against its Russian invaders, Ukraine has asked Germany and the other EU countries for more arms and ammunition.

On Thursday, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba mentioned artillery ammunition, armoured vehicles and tanks in talks with EU foreign ministers in Spain.

Mr Kuleba also called for an intensified fight against the circumvention of sanctions to make it more difficult for Russia to produce missiles and drones. He was speaking at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Spanish city of Toledo, where his EU counterparts discussed further support for Ukraine to combat the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian foreign minister again urged Germany to supply his country with Taurus cruise missiles.

Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine needs 160 Western combat aircraft.

“For an effective air force, we need a total of around 160 combat jets,” Mr Zelensky said in a television interview with Portugal’s public broadcaster.

This would effectively prevent Russia from dominating Ukrainian airspace.

Mr Zelensky said Ukraine had received pledges for 50 or 60 U.S.-made F-16s from various European countries.

Air force spokesman Yurii Ihnat earlier said the country needed around 128 F-16s.

Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have pledged F-16s to Ukraine.

Ukraine has signed a contract for joint arms production with BAE Systems, the largest British weapons company, to ramp up its armaments production further.

Mr Zelensky said at a meeting with the BAE leadership in Kyiv that there were plans to establish joint production of light L119 guns in Ukraine.

German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall is already active there.

On the military front, the Ukrainian army has made further gains in its counter-offensive in the southern region of Zaporizhzhya, Kyiv’s general staff said on Thursday.

The army reported that Ukrainian forces had advanced south of the village of Robotyne towards the neighbouring settlement of Novoprokopivka.

Units were holding the newly gained positions, it said.

To the east, unconfirmed reports indicate that Ukrainian troops have gained ground near the village of Verbove, according to Ukrainian officials.

The U.S. Institute for the Study of War said it observed video footage that showed some Ukrainian reconnaissance troops may have reached the outskirts of Verbove.

The Ukrainian army recently recaptured the village Robotyne after weeks of fighting.

The Ukrainian army’s goal is to reach the Sea of Azov, about 90 kilometres from Robotyne and cut off a major supply route between Russian-held areas.

In Moscow, the Defence Ministry said Russia’s air defence system shot down a cruise missile from Ukraine over Crimea overnight.

Two drones were also intercepted over the Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine. That the night before, Ukrainian forces had carried out their most massive drone strikes, attacking six Russian areas as far away as Moscow and Crimea.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wanted to expand the city’s air defences in the face of increasing drone attacks on the Russian capital.

“This year, we have done a lot to protect Moscow from drones and attempted terrorist attacks,” Mr Sobyanin told representatives of municipal companies on Thursday evening, according to the Interfax agency.

New air defence systems have been erected in recent weeks, sometimes daily, claimed Mr Sobyanin.

“Sometimes the asphalt doesn’t even have time to cool down, and already the missiles are in action, shooting down the flying drones,” he added.

Meanwhile, local media reported that Ukraine attacked the military part of an airport in the Russian border region of Kursk with a new type of drone.

A total of 16 missiles made of cardboard, which are said to be difficult for anti-aircraft radars to locate, were used on Saturday night, Ukrainian media reported on Thursday.


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