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Ukrainian MP urges West to deliver air defence systems

Ukrainian MP Kira Rudik has called for more support including additional air defence systems from the West, in the face of a fresh barrage of Russian attacks targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure overnight.

It has led to emergency blackouts in several regions after hydro and thermal energy plants were hit. Last week, Russia also hit Ukraine’s largest dam, the DniproHES in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

“The means for us to be ready to defend ourselves against those catastrophes, and against every single attack by Russia, is getting enough air defence systems and ammunition for that. This is the only real way of making sure that ecological catastophes will not happen again,” she told RTÉ News.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the recent attacks on the Dniester Power Station and the Kaniv Power station clearly indicated that Russia wanted a repeat of the catastrophe caused at the Kakhovska Power station.

“It must become a shared task, not only for Ukraine, to ensure such environmental disasters no longer occur in Europe,” he said, pointing out that Moldova could also be impacted as the Dniester River is its main water artery.

Speaking from London this afternoon, Kira Rudik said Ukraine was “incredibly concerned” about the ecological impact of the latest Russian attacks.

“First of all because we already have previous experience of Russians attacking, specifically attacking places to create ecological catastrophe, such as the Nova Kakhovka dam,” she said, referring to the huge soviet era dam on the Dnipro River which was breached in June of last year, causing extensive flooding and loss of life. Russian authorities have denied responsibility.

“That was a real tragedy for the whole region in Ukraine and had a huge impact, not only on the people that are living there, but on the surrounding regions.”

Asked about comments by the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who said that if Kyiv lost the war, “no one” in Europe would feel safe, Kira Rudik said: “The truth is we see improvements over the last couple of months in the production of ammunition and the production of systems within our European allies, however there is a huge delay between a political promise and the moment where Ukrainian soldiers are getting the weapons in their hands.”

She said Ukrainian people were paying for this delay with their lives. “Not only fighters at the front but people who go to bed in their cities and just get killed at night by the missile attacks. So, we are calling over and over, again and again, to everyone who can hear us, that we need the ammunition, we need air defence systems and we need them fast.”

She said a US national security package that would send military assistance to Ukraine had already been stuck for six months. “That delay for us is literally a matter of life and death,” she said and called for political differences to be put aside in order for it to pass.

She said it seemed Russia had now accumulated enough missiles and drones to continue to launch more attacks on Ukraine. She said the energy blackouts were damaging to morale, making life harder for ordinary people.

She said stronger sanctions were needed to prevent Russia from being able to continue to manufacture missiles and drones by getting parts through third-party countries. “This is something that needs a lot of attention and needs to stop. Otherwise, it will be a never-ending story when some countries are buying gas and oil from Russia and Russia then uses this money to buy missiles and drones and attacking us. And as Mr Tusk says, they may be attacking the NATO states at some point.”

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