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Nato to boost Ukraine’s missile defence

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Brussels: Ukraine’s Nato-led allies have announced deliveries of advanced air defence weapons to Kyiv after a spate of Russian missile strikes.

The weaponry promised by the UK, Canada, France and the Netherlands includes missiles and radars. The US earlier made a similar pledge. One high-tech system from Germany is already in Ukraine, BBC reported.

The pledges come as Ukraine’s allies from 50 countries meet at the Nato headquarters in Brussels. Kyiv hailed the summit as “historic”, BBC said.

Hours later, Russian shelling hit the southern city of Mykolaiv on Thursday morning.

Monday and Tuesday saw some of the heaviest Russian bombardment in months when more than 100 missiles were launched, hitting energy infrastructure and other non-military targets. At least 19 people were killed on the first day of the strikes, which included hitting central Kyiv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the missile strikes were retaliation for an attack on a key bridge linking Russia and Crimea — Ukraine’s southern peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.

The UK will donate air defence missiles, as well as hundreds of aerial drones to support Ukraine’s information gathering and logistics capabilities. It will also provide 18 howitzer artillery guns in addition to the 64 already delivered.

“Russia’s latest indiscriminate strikes on civilian areas in Ukraine warrant further support to those seeking to defend their nation,” said British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would supply air defence systems to Ukraine, the BBC reported.

The Netherlands said it would deliver €15m ($14.5m) worth of air defence missiles. Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said the Russian attacks “can only be met with unrelenting support for Ukraine and its people”.

Canada pledged to provide more than C$47m ($34m) worth of military aid, including satellite communications and drone cameras.

Ukraine’s military announced on Wednesday that the first of several “state-of-the-art IRIS-T SLM has been delivered from Germany to Ukraine”. It said the air defence system would help protect the country “against terror”.

Russia has repeatedly warned Ukraine’s allies against supplying advanced weaponry to Kyiv, stressing this would make them participants of the war that Putin began in February.

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