This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked NATO for a “clear” decision on Ukraine’s future with the Western military alliance as another wave of air strikes on Kyiv killed at least three people, including one child, who were shut out of an air-raid shelter.
Speaking at a summit of the European Political Community (EPC) in neighboring Moldova, Zelenskiy said Ukraine is “ready to join NATO” and the group needs to make a decision at it summit in Vilnius next month.
“In the summer in Vilnius at the NATO summit a clear invitation from the members of Ukraine is needed,” he said, adding that “security guarantees on the way to NATO membership” are needed as well.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Oslo that all NATO allies agree and are “moving” toward the country becoming a member, though German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that while the alliance’s door remains open for new members, it cannot be joined by a country that is at war.
“NATO’s open-door policy remains in place, but at the same time it is clear that we cannot talk about accepting new members (who are) in the midst of a war,” she told reporters in Oslo.
Zelenskiy said after the meeting that he had “heard powerful support from many countries” for a coalition of states to provide F-16 fighter jets. He noted that the F-16 jets he is seeking are supplied by the United States, adding: “With help of the United States we will create this coalition.”
Russia will continue to have air supremacy until Ukraine has fighter jets, Zelenskiy said.
Zelenskiy also mentioned the coalition of fighter jets in a tweet highlighting his meeting with the leaders of European countries.
“We discussed issues related to the start of training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 and other types of aircraft,” he said. “We agreed to continue working on an official decision to create the Ukrainian Sky Shield coalition of combat aircraft at the next meeting in the Ramstein format after further consultations with the U.S. side.”
The diplomatic push came after the capital was rocked by another attack that forced Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko to cancel all scheduled events to celebrate June 1, when many former communist countries celebrate International Children’s Day.
Klitschko said debris fell on a medical clinic, a kindergarten, a school, and a police station in the capital’s Desnyansk district during the first Russian attack of the month that also damaged apartment buildings, a water pipeline, and cars.
At first, Klitschko and the Kyiv military administration reported two children were among the three dead, but then revised the number to one. The child killed in the attack is thought to have been 10 or 11 years old.
Sixteen other people were wounded and seven of them were hospitalized, authorities said.
Yaroslav Ryabchuk, the 34-year-old husband of one of the women killed, told RFE/RL that his wife died on the street when she and their daughter were going to a shelter in the nearby medical clinic, which, he said, was locked.
Ryabchuk’s 9-year-old daughter was unharmed in the attack.
Residents told RFE/RL it was not the first time that people in the district were unable to get into the shelter. Many expressed outrage at Klitschko, who visited the site and said an investigation was opened into why the shelter was locked.
He added that he had ordered an additional check of access to all shelters in Kyiv.
The Ukrainian capital has been targeted by 18 waves of Russian air strikes in the past month.
The Ukrainian military said Russia used Iskander missiles in the June 1 attack that targeted infrastructure in the Kyiv region.
“Preliminarily, [it was established that] 10 out of 10 missiles were destroyed by the Ukrainian air defense,” the military said in its morning report.
Separately, four civilians were killed and another 11 were wounded by Russian shelling over the past day in Donetsk, Kherson, and Kharkiv regions, regional military administrations said.
In the east, Ukrainian defenders repelled 21 Russian assaults in the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv regions, the General Staff reported in its daily bulletin on June 1.
Two of the unsuccessful attacks targeted Ukrainian positions in the area of Bakhmut, the Donetsk city that has been the focal point of the war in the Donbas for the past several months, the military said.
Amid an uptick of cross-border attacks on Russian territory, the Russian Defense Ministry said on June 1 that said it had repelled three Ukrainian attacks on the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine.
The ministry said its troops had prevented Ukrainian units from crossing the border into Belgorod and that Kyiv’s forces had been driven back, state-owned news agency TASS reported.
Earlier, Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said “uninterrupted shelling” hit a town and wounded eight people overnight.
“Shebekino is facing uninterrupted shelling” with rocket launchers, Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram, adding that no one was killed.
The reports could not be independently verified.
Ukraine has denied its military is involved in incursions into the Belgorod region and says they are being conducted by Russian volunteer fighters.