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8 killed in Russian attack as U.S. pledges to send Ukraine Patriot missile system

Russia's submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles launched Dec. 12, 2020. (Russian Ministry of Defense/Released)

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

A Russian ballistic missile strike on the Ukrainian city of Kryviy Rih on June 12 killed at least eight people and injured at least 21, including children, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Klymenko announced the updated number of victims on Telegram after initially saying six had been killed. He added that four more people were missing.

The attack, which came after a report that the United States will provide Ukraine with another Patriot missile system, damaged an administrative building and an apartment block, Ukraine’s Southern Defense military command said on Telegram.

Kryviy Rih, a major city in the Dnipropetrovsk region that is President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s hometown, has been the target of Russian air attacks multiple times in Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Zelenskiy responded by calling on Ukraine’s allies to step up deliveries of sophisticated air-defense batteries to ward off Russian attacks.

“Every day and every hour, Russian terror proves that Ukraine, together with its partners, should strengthen air defenses,” Zelenskiy said.

He expressed condolences to the families and friends of the victims and said emergency services were working on site, sharing a video showing a man being carried out of the rubble on a stretcher as firefighters battled blazes.

In an earlier statement on Telegram, Zelenskiy said Russia tried to launch a combined attack on Ukraine using missiles and drones. He said five missiles and more than 20 drones were shot down.

“It is this result in protecting life that can be our daily achievement if we have enough tools to repel terrorist strikes,” he said.

The Air Force reported that 29 out of 30 targets were shot down.

Earlier on June 12, the Associated Press reported that the United States will provide another Patriot missile system in response to Ukraine’s pleas for more air defenses as devastating Russian strikes keep the country on edge and decimate its energy grid, forcing Kyiv to import record amounts of power.

The pledge would give Ukraine its second Patriot system since the Russian invasion of the country in February 2022, while the Pentagon routinely provides an undisclosed number of missiles for the system.

The move has been approved by President Joe Biden, the AP said, citing two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. It followed an impassioned plea by Zelenskiy for more help against the 3,000 missiles, drones, and other projectiles that he said Russia launches at the country each month.

Germany on June 11 also pledged to send a Patriot system, along with Gepard self-propelled antiaircraft guns and an IRIS-T air-defense system.

U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on June 12 that the United States and Ukraine will sign a bilateral security agreement on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy.

Zelenskiy and Biden will discuss U.S. support for Ukraine now and in the future after which they will sign a security agreement, Sullivan said. The agreement will not commit U.S. troops directly to Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion but will “show our resolve,” Sullivan said.

“We want to demonstrate that the U.S. supports the people of Ukraine, that we stand with them, and that we’ll continue to help address their security needs,” he said.

Zelenskiy has said Ukraine urgently needs more air defenses to fend off Russian strikes against the power grid and civilian areas, as well as military targets.

Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s energy sector have intensified since March, causing blackouts in many regions, and forcing Kyiv to begin large-scale electricity imports from the European Union.

Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said in a statement the country would import 29,796 megawatt hours on June 12, exceeding the previous record of up to 28,000 MWh set earlier this month.

“Yesterday, due to the shortage of generation capability caused by massive Russian attacks on energy facilities, consumer restrictions were applied,” the ministry noted.

The U.S. decision to give Kyiv an additional Patriot missile system comes as defense leaders from the United States, Europe, and other countries prepare for their monthly meeting on Ukraine’s security needs. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host the meeting in Brussels on June 13.

Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder told reporters earlier this week that Ukraine’s need for air defenses will be a topic at the meeting.

Washington has routinely urged allies to provide air defense systems to Ukraine, but many are reluctant to give up the high-tech systems — particularly countries in eastern Europe that also feel threatened by Russia.