Zelenskyy asks G7 for more air defenses, support for Belarus border mission

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday asked the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations for more air defense capabilities to stop Russia, and to back his initiative for an international observer mission on the Belarusian border.

Joining the G7 leaders’ virtual meeting a day after missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv, Zelenskyy called for tough new sanctions on Moscow and again ruled out talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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“When Ukraine receives a sufficient quantity of modern and effective air defense systems, the key element of Russia’s terror, rocket strikes, will cease to work,” Zelenskyy said, thanking German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for speeding up delivery of the IRIS-T air defense system and US President Joe Biden for deliveries of air defense systems.

“We hope, Mr President, that these will be systems with a medium to long range of effectiveness, which will allow the creation of a layered system of defense.”

Ukraine’s Western allies have pumped aid and heavy weapons to Kyiv since Russia's invasion in February. Zelenskyy’s government has mixed gratitude with pleas for more powerful weapons and faster deliveries.

Belarus this week announced its troops would be deployed with Russian forces near Ukraine, signaling a potential further escalation of the war. So far Belarus, a close Russian ally, has been a staging post for the invasion.

Ukraine has no plans to attack Belarus, Zelenskyy said, but wants to make sure there is no threat from its northern neighbor.

“On the border of Ukraine and Belarus, we can place a mission of international observers to monitor the security situation. The format can be worked out by our diplomats. I ask you, on the level of the G7, to support this initiative,” he said.

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