Russia strikes Ukrainian towns as Nato plans Europe air defences

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Russian missiles have pounded more than 40 Ukrainian cities and towns over the past 24 hours, as Nato allies meeting in Brussels unveiled plans on Thursday to jointly beef up Europe’s air defences with Patriot and other missile systems.

“We are living in threatening, dangerous times,” said German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht at a signing ceremony where Germany and more than a dozen of European Nato members committed to jointly procuring weapons for a “European Sky Shield” to better protect their territory.

Moscow renewed warnings that more military aid for Kyiv agreed earlier this week at the Nato meeting made members of the US-led military alliance “a direct party to the conflict” and said admitting Ukraine to the alliance would trigger a World War.

“Kyiv is well aware that such a step would mean a guaranteed escalation to a World War Three,” deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Alexander Venediktov, told the state TASS news agency on Thursday.

Moscow has repeatedly justified the February 24 invasion that has killed tens of thousands of people, in what it calls a “special operation”, by saying Ukraine’s ambitions to join the alliance posed a threat to Russia’s security.

Nato is not likely to quickly allow Ukraine to join, not least because its membership during an ongoing war would put the United States and its allies into direct conflict with Russia under the alliance’s collective defence clause.

 

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