UKRAINE SAID RUSSIA launched “massive” missile and drone attacks today, a day after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lobbied for long-range weapons before EU leaders.

Ukraine’s war-time leader travelled to London, Paris and Brussels this week in only his second trip abroad since Moscow invaded just under a year ago.

He warned that Ukraine needs artillery, munitions, modern tanks, long-range missiles and fighter jets faster than Russia can prepare what he said would be a dangerous new offensive.

Early today, Ukraine’s army said Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles and drones on the country.

“The enemy struck cities and critical infrastructure facilities,” the air force said, adding that seven Iranian-made explosive drones were launched from the Sea of Azov and six Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea.

The air force said it had shot down five drones and five Kalibr missiles.

Russia also carried out a “massive” attack with “up to 35 anti-aircraft guided missiles” targeting the Kharkiv region in the east and the southern Zaporizhzhia region, it said.

For several months, Russia has been systematically targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, leading to power shortages that left millions in the cold and dark in the middle of winter.

The attacks come as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged Ukraine’s European allies to send further arms supplies, including western combat jets and heavy tanks. 

French President Emmanuel Macron said today that he is not “ruling out” sending fighter jets, but added that they would not be sent “in the coming weeks”. 

“That doesn’t correspond to today’s requirements,” Macron said after an EU summit in Brussels attended by Zelenskyy.

Meanwhile, Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki said his country “will not be the first to hand over fighters” but would welcome others leading the way, while Britain said it would consider it as a “long-term solution”.

NATO, the EU and the United States have been the main backers of Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin’s Russia unleashed its invasion on 24 February last year.

The situation, however, is becoming more pressing on the ground in eastern Ukraine, where months-long fighting for control of Bakhmut, a key town in the eastern Donbas region, has left many casualties on both sides.

Zaporizhzhia city council secretary Anatolii Kurtiev said the city had been hit 17 times in one hour, which he said made it the most intense period of attacks since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.

In Kharkiv, authorities were still trying to establish information on victims and scale of the destruction, with mayor Ihor Terekhov saying there may be disruptions to heating and the electricity and water supply.

Military analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin is hoping that Europe’s support for Ukraine will wane, as Russia is believed to be preparing a new offensive.

Fighting in Ukraine intensified on Thursday.

Kyiv’s military intelligence agency said Russian forces have launched an offensive in the partially occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with the aim to grab full control of the entire industrial region, known as the Donbas.

Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces there since 2014.

– Additional reporting from AFP.

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