At least 11 killed in Ukraine amid new wave of Russian attacks
The latest Russian air strikes come just a day after Germany and the US had agreed to send tanks to Kyiv. ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports
Russian forces have fired a wave of missiles and self-exploding drone attacks at the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, killing at least 11 and injuring 11 more.
The early morning strike on Thursday led to first attack-related death of the year in Kyiv even as air defences shot down many of the incoming projectiles.
The attacks adhered to Russia's recent pattern of launching widespread strikes about every two weeks.
But the wave of weapons came a day after Germany and the United States upped the ante in Russia's 11-month war by promising to send high-tech battle tanks to Ukraine and green-lighting other allies to do the same.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a strike killed one person, the city's first such death since New Year's Eve. Two others were injured, he added.
The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko said Ukrainian air defences shot down 15 cruise missiles heading to the area were shot down.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy branded Vladimir Putin a “nobody” as he suggested that it was too late for face-to-face talks with the Russian leader to make any difference.
Mr Zelenskyy, who turned 45 on Wednesday, also praised his “special bond” with Boris Johnson but declined to say whether he would like to see him return as prime minister one day.
Asked if it was too late for one-on-one talks with Mr Putin to prove useful in resolving the war, Mr Zelenskyy said: “Too late, not interesting. Who is he now? After full-scale invasion, for me he is a nobody.”
Zelenskyy's comments follow the announcement that dozens of tanks from Nato countries will be sent to Ukraine to bolster the fight against Putin’s invasion.
Air raid sirens wailed nationwide, the head of the Kyiv city administration said that 15 cruise missiles were shot down. Serhii Popko said the missiles were fired “in the direction of Kyiv” but did not clarify if the capital itself was a target.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said explosions were heard in Kyiv’s Dniprovskyi district, on the east side of the river that divides the city.
The attacks came after Germany and the United States announced on Wednesday that they will send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine, offering what one expert called an “armoured punching force” to help Kyiv break combat stalemates as the Russian invasion enters its 12th month.
Now that Western countries have committed to sending tanks to Ukraine, the key is "speed and volume", the Ukrainian President said.
In his nightly video address, he said: "The key now is speed and volume. The speed of training our military, the speed of supplying tanks to Ukraine.
"We have to form a fist of tanks, a fist of freedom, which will not allow tyranny to rise again."
The decision to send the tanks ended weeks of diplomatic deadlock over the supply of armour to the country.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz approved the supply of the Leopard 2 to Kyiv, which would also allow other allies operating the tanks to re-export them.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was the “right decision”, and the move would bolster Ukraine’s “defensive firepower”.
The US confirmed it will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to the warzone.
The UK had already become the first Western nation to promise main battle tanks, with around 14 Challenger 2s pledged by Mr Sunak.
The UK's Challenger 2 tanks are expected to arrive in the war-torn country at the end of March, a defence minister has said.
Alex Chalk also told the Commons that the UK will begin training Ukrainian soldiers in how to use and fix the contingent of tanks “next week on Monday”.
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Since his Downing Street exit, Mr Johnson has continued to offer wholehearted support to Mr Zelenskyy and has called on western allies to arm Ukraine with the resources it needs to help end the war.
Mr Zelenskyy declined to say whether Mr Johnson should get an official role representing the UK on Ukraine, appearing to laugh at the suggestion and indicating that the former PM might not be ready for such a role.
“He is good guy,” he said. “Who knows? With pleasure, with pleasure, really.”
But he declined to say whether he would like to see Mr Johnson enter Downing Street again, instead praising his “good relations” with Rishi Sunak.
“I think that is not correct for me to support Johnson to be prime minister," he said.
“We have good relations with Sunak. I think we had more long relations with Johnson, because it was more long-time.
“I saw Johnson in different situations, I saw him not in war and then in full-scale war, that’s why we have special relations.”
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