Zelenskiy tells finance ministers Ukraine needs $55 billion for budget, reconstruction until next year

Ukraine’s recent military victories against the Russian invaders have been “extraordinary” and influenced the course of the war despite the “evil and cruelty” of Moscow’s latest missile strikes, US Secretary of Defense said. Lloyd Austin, at a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Austin spoke to the Ukraine Contact Group, a gathering of more than 50 countries on the sidelines of a NATO defense ministers meeting on Oct. 12 to discuss bolstering Ukraine’s air defenses amid continued attacks with Russian missiles throughout the country, including the capital Kyiv.

On October 12, the attacks continuedwith at least seven dead and eight wounded in a Russian attack on a crowded market in the city of Avdiyivka, the governor of the eastern Donetsk region said.

“The Russians attacked the central market where there were a lot of people at the time,” Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a statement, adding that there was “no military logic” for such an attack.

Austin said Russia’s actions had further united the international community in supporting Ukraine’s military efforts to defend itself.

“The whole world has just seen once again the malice and cruelty of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war of choice, rooted in aggression and waged with a profound disregard for the rules of war,” he said.

“Ukraine has made extraordinary progress on the battlefield,” Austin said.

“Despite Putin’s new attacks, the Ukrainian forces have changed the dynamic of this war. They have liberated hundreds of villages from the Russian occupation. And they have retaken thousands of square kilometers of their land,” he said, but added that support western remained. critical.

“The Contact Group’s security support, training and sustainment efforts have been vital,” Austin said.

Speaking before the meeting in Brussels, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on October 12 that providing Ukraine with more air defenses was the “top priority” of the meeting, which will also be attended by representatives of other countries.

“We will discuss how to increase support for Ukraine and the main priority will be more air defense for Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said at the start of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Oct. 11 called for a Group of Seven (G7) summit to lock down Russia’s energy sector with more sanctions to disrupt Russian oil and gas revenues and called for more air defense capabilities. to neutralize air strikes, saying that when Ukraine receives such systems, “the key element of Russian terror, rocket attacks, will stop working.”

“Russia must be completely isolated and punished. Punished both politically and in terms of sanctions,” he said.

“These steps can bring peace closer, they will encourage the terrorist state to think about peace, about the lack of profitability of war,” he added. Zelenskiy told the leaders from the United States, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, France and Italy.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said he did not believe Moscow would use a tactical nuclear weapon against Ukraine despite recent thinly veiled threats to use its atomic arsenal.

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In recent weeks, Russia moved to seize four partially occupied regions of Ukraine after referendums widely denounced as illegal, mobilized hundreds of thousands of Russians and repeatedly alluded to the use of nuclear weapons, stoking alarm in the West.

Biden said Putin had completely misjudged Russia’s ability to invade Ukraine, but said he believes the Russian leader is acting rationally, even though his goals in Ukraine were “not rational.”

“If you listen to the speech he made after that decision was made [to invade Ukraine]talked about the whole idea of ​​… he needed to be the leader of Russia who would unite all Russian speakers,” Biden said in an Oct. 11 interview with CNN. “I think it’s irrational.”

Russia launched its new wave of missile attacks in several regions of Ukraine a day after shelling several cities, including Kyiv, in retaliation for an Oct. 8 explosion that damaged the only bridge between Moscow-annexed Crimea and mainland Russia.

Biden warned last week that the world risks “Armageddon” in unusually direct comments following Putin’s threats to use atomic weapons amid a faltering military campaign in Ukraine.

Putin’s intentions and state of mind have been the subject of much debate after the Russian military suffered a series of setbacks in Ukraine.

But Biden said Putin was “rational” despite the mistakes he made.

“I think [Putin] he is a rational actor who has significantly miscalculated,” Biden said.

In reaction, the Kremlin said on October 12 that Western leaders’ rhetoric about the potential use of nuclear weapons was damaging and provocative.

“We express our daily regret that Western heads of state engage in nuclear rhetoric every day,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that such a practice was “provocative.”

Peskov also denied that more men were being recruited into the army, despite some regional officials reporting that they were stepping up mobilization efforts this week.

“There is no new wave,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, telling reporters to check with individual governors to see what they wanted to say.

The G7 leaders in a statement condemned Russia’s recent missile attacks and said they would hold Putin and those responsible to account, but did not say how.

The White House subsequently pledged to speed up shipments of air defenses to Ukraine, while Germany promised delivery to Ukraine “in the coming days” of the first of four IRIS-T SLM air defense systems capable of protecting a city.

Zelenskiy thanked all the countries that have already helped Ukraine protect its air defense systems, in particular the United States and Germany, but said that according to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia ordered 2,400 drones from Iran.

In addition, Zelenskiy called on the G7 countries to support his initiative for an international observer mission on Ukraine’s border with Belarus to monitor the security situation.

With information from AFP, AP, BBC, CNN and Reuters

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