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More civilians killed amid Kyiv’s desperation for air-defense systems

Residents carry bags out of an apartment building damaged by a Russian strike in suburban Kyiv, Ukraine on March 14, 2022. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russian forces shelled the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, killing one person and injuring 16, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said, as Ukraine’s president and foreign minister again appealed for more air-defense systems from the United States.

The death of the civilian in Kharkiv was among at least three people killed by Russian attacks across eastern and southern Ukraine on March 27.

The attack in Kharkiv hit apartment buildings, Terekhov said on Telegram, describing it as “another act of bloody terror against Ukrainians.”

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synyehubov said there were two strikes on a district of Kharkiv city that damaged residential infrastructure.

Five-story buildings where people lived were heavily damaged, and the Institute of Emergency Surgery was also affected, Synyehubov said.

Russian forces have escalated aerial attacks on Ukraine in the past few weeks, targeting key infrastructure, including power stations, in retaliation for fatal bombardments of Russia’s border regions.

In the southern region of Kherson, a 61-year-old woman was killed in her home in a drone attack on a village; four children were among the wounded.

In the southeastern city of Nikopol, officials said artillery fire killed a 55-year-old man, while a ballistic missile strike on the coastal territory of Mykolayiv left eight wounded.

The Ukrainian armed forces said they shot down 10 out of 13 Shahed drones launched by Russia in the early hours of March 27. The drones were launched from Russia’s Kursk region and targeted the Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Sumy regions, the military said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, speaking on March 27 in an online briefing, again called for urgent deliveries of air-defense systems.

“The peculiarity of the current Russian attacks is the intensive use of ballistic missiles that can reach targets at extremely high speeds, leaving little time for people to take cover and causing significant destruction,” Kuleba said.

“Patriot and other similar systems are defensive by definition. They are designed to protect lives, not take them,” he said, referring to the U.S.-made missiles.

Ukrainian President Volodymry Zelenskiy also called for the West to deliver air-defense systems, saying the protection is “required in Ukraine now” and urging Ukraine’s partners to “demonstrate sufficient political will.”

Ukraine has become more and more frustrated over the inability of the U.S. Congress to pass a massive military aid package because of partisan disagreements. The bill remains stalled as lawmakers are in the middle of a two-week break for the Easter holiday.

Zelenskiy was in the Sumy region on March 27 to inspect the construction of defensive fortifications such as trenches, dugouts, and observation posts.

He also visited troops in a hospital and presented awards to soldiers with the 117th Separate Territorial Defense Brigade.

Meanwhile, Moscow has vowed to respond to an escalation of strikes on its border regions.

Russia said on March 27 that the border city of Belgorod was targeted again, and air-defense systems had shot down 18 Ukrainian missiles. Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said two people were wounded during the barrage. Belgorod has recently experienced an increase in fatal attacks.