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Zelensky: Ukraine needs more modern air defense systems

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 10, 2024 5:10 PM 2 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in Vilnius on Jan. 10, 2024. (President of Ukraine)
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Ukraine currently lacks the ability to produce its own modern air defense system, something that it desperately needs to protect its citizens from Russian strikes, President Volodymyr Zelensky said at a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in Vilnius on Jan. 10.

Zelensky pointed to the mass strikes across Ukraine at the end of December and the start of the month, which hit "civil infrastructure, people, kindergartens."

According to Zelensky, Russia used 500 missiles and drones in this series of strikes. Though air defense forces were able to down around 70% of them on average, "unfortunately, we lost people."

The strike on Dec. 29 targeted cities across Ukraine and was the largest attack on civilians in Kyiv since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, according to Vitali Klitschko, the capital's mayor. Over 50 people were reportedly killed, and over 160 more were injured nationwide.

Sufficient air defense systems are therefore the "number one" thing that is missing in Ukraine right now, Zelensky said. "We can fight this enemy with technology until we have driven them from our land."

Ukraine's head of state arrived in Vilnius earlier on Jan. 10 as the first step in his trip to the three Baltic countries. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are among Kyiv's staunchest supporters against Moscow's aggression.

Vilnius promised to continue its uninterrupted support for Ukraine through defense deals finalized last year, as well as through new ones planned for the coming months and years.

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