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Ukraine ‘ran out of missiles’ to thwart Russian strike on power plant, Zelensky says

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A lack of air defenses meant Ukraine was powerless to prevent a Russian airstrike last week that destroyed the biggest power plant in Kyiv region, President Volodomyr Zelensky said.

Russia fired 11 missiles towards the Trypilska power plant, Zelensky said. Ukrainian air defenses downed the first seven missiles, but the next four completely destroyed the plant.

“Why? Because we had zero missiles. We ran out of all missiles,” Zelensky told PBS NewsHour in an interview that aired Monday.

Zelensky has repeatedly warned allies that Ukraine’s air defenses are running perilously thin, as Russia has recently renewed its assault on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. But a desperately needed military aid package from the United States has for months been blocked by House Republicans in Congress.

Zelenksy said Iran’s thwarted attack on Israel demonstrated that Western countries were able to protect the skies of their allies. Iran fired more than 300 projectiles at Israel in an unprecedented attack over the weekend, but the attack was stymied with the help of US, UK, French and Jordanian air defenses.

“Israel, by itself, wouldn’t be able to protect against such a numerous, powerful strike. And here, definitely, they used air defense and aviation, many things that, frankly speaking, Ukraine is lacking,” he said.

Zelensky questioned why Israel has enjoyed such comprehensive support from NATO members despite not being a member of the alliance.

“Israel is not a NATO country. The NATO allies, including NATO countries, have been defending Israel. They showed the Iranian forces that Israel was not alone. And this is a lesson. This is a response to anyone on any continent who says you need to assist Ukraine very carefully so you don’t engage NATO countries in the war,” he said.

Allies have passed incremental aid packages but the main tranche of US funding – totaling some $60 billion – has not been brought to a vote in Congress by House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Johnson on Monday signaled that, by the week’s end, he would bring a revamped Ukraine funding bill to the floor of the House, which would be separate from funding bills for Israel and Taiwan. However, there are still doubts whether the bill will pass as Johnson faces opposition from within his own party.

Zelensky called the division of the bill “strange” and “pure politics.”

“Nobody cares how many people are dying in Ukraine every day. They only care about their approval ratings. That’s what it’s all about. But forgetting that dead people don’t care about ratings”, Zelensky said.

“People in Congress need to think twice about pushing these political matters with regards to support in Ukraine and vote to support all of the countries whose lives depend on it.”

Zelensky repeated his warnings that Ukraine risks losing the war if the US fails to approve military aid.

“I can tell you, frankly, without this support, we will have no chance of winning,” he said.

He said Russia enjoys a 10-to-one advantage in terms of artillery shells. “To defend 100 percent of what’s in our control, we would need to go from one to comparing numbers, 10-10.”

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