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Ukraine war briefing: Don’t stockpile your Patriots, put Ukrainian needs first, allies told

Olaf Scholz tells EU to send more Patriot batteries as Nato chief urges members to prioritise Ukraine’s air defences; airstrikes on Chernihiv kill 17. What we know on day 785

Calls to support Ukraine’s defence against Russian air strikes have grown after at least 17 people died when three missiles hit the centre of Chernihiv, a city in northern Ukraine near the border with Russia.

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, on Wednesday urged his fellow EU leaders to follow Germany’s lead and send Ukraine more Patriot air defence systems. Germany on Saturday announced it was sending an additional Patriot battery. “This is immediately useful, we want to encourage others to do the same,” said Scholz as he arrived for an EU summit in Brussels. “Now it is about doing it quickly and not at some point in the future.”

Nato’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg, told member countries that they should further strain their stockpiles to help support Ukraine. “If allies face a choice between meeting Nato capability targets and providing more aid to Ukraine, my message is clear: send more to Ukraine,” he said on Wednesday.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy repeated the urgent appeal for more assistance via video address to the EU leaders. “Thank you, Olaf, for your efficiency. However, we have a bigger need. Systems that you have, they are needed in Ukraine right now – needed to stop Putin from relying on terrorist methods.” Officials say Ukraine is seeking seven more Patriot systems from western stocks since they are the only ones capable of downing Russia’s hypersonic missiles.

Joe Biden has said he strongly supports a proposal from the Republican House speaker, Mike Johnson, to at last navigate $61bn in aid for Ukraine through the US Congress. “The House must pass the package this week, and the Senate should quickly follow,” said the US president. “I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: we stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed.” An additional proposal is expected to include measures to redirect seized Russian assets toward Ukraine.

Zelenskiy confirmed the Ukrainian military had attacked the Russian airfield of Dzhankoi in occupied Crimea. Unofficial sources in both Ukraine and Russia on Wednesday reported a series of explosions at the base. “Thank you, warriors. Thank you for your accuracy. Thank you to commander-in-chief [Oleksandr] Syrskyi for organising this operation,” said Zelenskiy. The president expressed thanks to servicemen staging “special operations, especially important operations, extremely significant ones that destroy the equipment of the Russian army, their combat infrastructure”.

The Ukrainian military says Russia has ramped up its illegal use of riot control agents on the front to try to clear trenches as it begins to make bigger advances in the east. Riot control agents such as teargas are banned on the battlefield by the international Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Russia and Ukraine are signatories.

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