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Biden promises Ukraine 'advanced air defense systems' after Russian missile barrage

A wounded woman is treated by emergency service personnel at the site of an explosion in Kyiv, Ukraine on October 10, 2022. At least five people have been killed and 12 wounded in Russian missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 10 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday and promised Ukraine "advanced air defense systems" after a wave of Russian attacks against the country that hit civilian infrastructure and killed at least 14 people.

During the call, Biden condemned "Russia's missile strikes across Ukraine, including Kyiv, and conveyed his condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured in these senseless attacks."

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Russia hit 11 targets and eight different regions on Monday, including the capital Kyiv, in one of its most expansive attacks since the start of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Biden pledged to "continue providing Ukraine with the support needed to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems."

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While Biden did not specify which air defense systems, the United States has already committed to providing Ukraine with National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, that could engage with Russian cruise missiles.

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Biden also told Zelensky he will hold ongoing talks with "allies and partners to continue imposing costs on Russia, holding Russia accountable for its war crimes and atrocities, and providing Ukraine with security, economic and humanitarian assistance."

While Biden spoke with Zelensky, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and European Union Vice President Josep Borrell Fontelles also pledged continued support to Ukraine on Monday.

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"I just spoke with [Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba] to reiterate U.S. support for Ukraine following the Kremlin's horrific strikes this morning," Blinken said on Twitter. "We will continue to provide unwavering economic, humanitarian, and security assistance so Ukraine can defend itself and take care of its people.

In a readout of a phone conversation Fontelles had with Kuleba on Monday, the European Union leader called the Kremlin's attacks on Monday "barbaric and cowardly" while "targeting innocent civilians on their way to work and school in the morning traffic."

Fontelles also warned Belarus not to join Russia in any regional troop attack on Ukraine and to stop allowing Moscow to use their land as a launching pad for attacks.

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In an earlier statement, Biden offered his condolences to Ukraine while reinforcing Blinken's comments for continued support for Kyiv.

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"Alongside our allies and partners, we will continue to impose costs on Russia for its aggression, hold Putin and Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes, and provide the support necessary for Ukrainian forces to defend their country and their freedom," Biden said in a statement from the White House.

"We again call on Russia to end this unprovoked aggression immediately and remove its troops from Ukraine."

Russia's barrage came after a series of military setbacks over the past month. The wave of attacks killed at least 14 people with scores more injured.

"People are under the rubble," said Oleksii Kuleba, head of the regional military administration, according to CNN. "Rescuers and relevant services are working on the ground to save people as soon as possible.

Kuleba said the attacks had damaged "critical infrastructure" and there could be "possible power outages and water supply interruptions."

Moldova's Deputy Prime Minister Nicu Popescu called on Russia's ambassador to the country for an explanation as to why three rockets fired in Russia's missile barrage on Monday crossed his country's airspace.

Rockets traveled from the Black Sea over Moldova into Ukraine in Monday's attack, leaving Popescu to complain about the incident publicly on Twitter.

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"Three cruise missiles launched on Ukraine this morning from Russian ships in the Black Sea crossed Moldova's airspace," Popescu wrote. "I instructed that Russia's ambassador be summoned to provide an explanation."

Russia's strikes come days after the Kerch Bridge, built after Moscow forcibly took Crimea and linked the peninsula with the country, was hit and severely damaged.

"If acts of terrorism continue against Russia, we will respond in a very harsh manner," Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday shortly after Russia's attack, pointing to the damage done to the Kerch Bridge. "The responses will be of the same scale as the threats to Russia. Nobody should have any doubts about this."

The Ukrainian military said Russia fired 75 missiles into Ukraine on Monday morning, but its defense was able to intercept more than 40 of them. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the new Russian attacks, which also included Iranian-made kamikaze drones, attacked energy infrastructure and civilians.

Ukrainian officials said Russian strikes in Kyiv damaged the Taras Shevchenko Museum, dedicated to Ukraine's national poet, and the Khanenko Art Museum, which houses the country's philharmonic orchestra.

On the Donbas, Russia continued to give high priority to its own offensive operations near the town of Bakhmut despite setbacks in other locations and in the south due to the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

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"Over the last week, Russian forces have advanced up to two kilometers towards the town on two axes, coming closer to breaking into Bakhmut, which has suffered extensive damage from shelling," the British Defense Ministry said on Twitter.

"These forces have likely included Wagner private military company units, including personnel recently recruited from Russian prisons. Russia's continued efforts to progress its grinding Donbas offensive, in the face of serious threats on its operational flanks."

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