President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday urged Ukraine’s allies to speed up deliveries of warplanes and air defense systems following a deadly Russian strike on the city of Kharkiv.

“Bolstering Ukraine’s air defense and expediting the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine are vital tasks. There are no rational explanations for why Patriots, which are plentiful around the world, are still not covering the skies of Kharkiv and other cities,” Zelensky said in a post on social media.

Russian attacks on eastern and southern Ukraine killed at least three people, officials said, as Kyiv called for more Patriot air defense systems to battle a surge in missile strikes.

Moscow has 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 Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv, which has been reeling from power outages due to the strikes, officials said aerial bombing and shelling killed at least one person and injured 16 others.

Oleg Sinegubov, the governor of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, which is partially occupied by Russia, said one woman had been killed in a drone attack on the village of Mykhailivka.

“A 61-year-old local resident was fatally wounded in her own home,” the official, Oleksandr Prokudin, wrote on social media.

And 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 Mykolaiv left eight wounded.

The Ukrainian air force said Russia had launched 13 Iranian-designed attack drones overnight and that 10 were downed over the Kharkiv region, the neighboring Sumy region and near the capital Kyiv.

‘Little Time’ 

During an online briefing on Wednesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called again for urgent deliveries of Western air defense systems he said were crucial in warding off the increase in attacks.

President Volodymyr Zelensky was in the northeastern Sumy region bordering Russia on Wednesday, where he met with soldiers recovering from injuries and visited newly built defense lines.

Ukraine has been forced onto a defensive footing in the past few months as it struggles with ammunition shortages amid delays to a $60 billion aid package from Washington.

Its ground forces commander warned last week Russia was gathering over 100,000 soldiers in advance of what may be a major offensive this summer, as Moscow seeks to press its advantage on the battlefield.

With AFP