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NATO-Ukraine Council meeting on air defense to take place on April 19

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 17, 2024 6:28 PM 2 min read
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference at NATO headquarters during the first of two days of defense ministers' meetings on Feb. 14, 2024, in Brussels, Belgium. (Omar Havana / Getty Images)
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A NATO-Ukraine Council meeting to discuss supplies of air defense systems will take place on April 19, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on April 17.

President Volodymyr Zelensky requested the gathering earlier this week. Russia's intensifying aerial attacks on Ukrainian cities continue to highlight the growing shortage of sufficient air defense systems.

A Russian missile attack on the city of Chernihiv on the morning of April 17 killed at least 17 people.

Stoltenberg said when NATO members are faced with the choice between keeping hold of their air defense systems or sending them to Kyiv, they "must choose Ukraine."

"The reality is that, of course, we have systems available that are big enough to enable us to deliver significantly more to Ukraine when it comes to air defense in general and... that's exactly what we're working on," he added.

Stoltenberg also said there were less than 100 Patriot batteries in Europe but said NATO as a whole has a "significant number," adding: "But that's also reflecting the fact that the United States, which is the ally with the most Patriot batteries, has global responsibilities."

Iran's massive drone and missile attack on Israel at the weekend has raised questions in Kyiv about the differences in how NATO countries help defend the skies of Israel and Ukraine.

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"Although the 'Shahed' drones and ballistic missiles are the same… Different threats of escalation. But are human lives different, are people's values different?" Zelensky said on April 16.

"No, they are not. We value every life equally. We must do so. We must protect them from terror on the same level."

Elsewhere on April 17, Germany launched a new initiative to secure more critically needed air defenses for Ukraine, the Tagesschau outlet reported, citing spokespeople of Germany's defense and foreign ministries.

According to Zelensky, Ukraine needs 25 Patriots to protect the entire country from Russian attacks, but Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he is for now focused on securing seven to protect Ukraine's largest cities.

Russia's recent strikes against Ukraine's energy infrastructure destroyed several thermal power plants across the country, including the Trypillia plant, the main electricity supplier to Kyiv, Zhytomyr, and Cherkasy oblasts.

Kyiv has ramped up its calls on allies to provide Ukraine with more air defenses, in particular with U.S.-made Patriot systems that can intercept ballistic missiles.

Speaker Johnson advances aid bills, but time running out as Ukraine’s supplies dry up
After six grueling months, the U.S. House of Representatives may finally be preparing to vote on a new aid package for Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson said on April 16 that following new rounds of talks with House Republicans, he planned to advance three separate aid packages for Ukraine,

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