A fire burns in Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine after Russian drone and missile strikes, April 6, 2024

Friday’s Coverage: NATO Discusses Air Defense and Weapons for Kyiv

Map: Institute for the Study of War


In an interview with the German tabloid Bild, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the bloc’s headquarters expelled several Russian personnel for engaging in intelligence activities rather than diplomatic work.

We have seen that Russian intelligence services have operated across European countries for many years. We’re also seeing attempts to step up their activities, but of course, NATO allies are monitoring, following this very closely.

In October 2021, NATO expelled eight members of Moscow’s mission as “undeclared Russian intelligence officers”. The size of the mission was reduced to 10 personnel.

It is unclear if Stoltenberg was referring to the later expulsion of some of those 10 staff.


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has commented on the latest Russian mass killing in Kharkiv:

We must put an end to this terror. It’s crucial to strengthen the air defense for Kharkiv region. And our partners can help us with this.


A woman in Russia’s Volgograd region has been sentenced to 10 months of forced labor for her Instagram video in which she pretends to tickle a World War II statue.

Alyona Agafonova posted the 12-second clip to her stories in July. She stands next to the base of Volgograd’s World War II monument, The Motherland Calls, and pretending to tickle its chest while humming a circus tune.

After pro-Kremlin bloggers shared the video online, Agafonova was charged with “rehabilitating Nazism”. The Russian Investigative Committee accused her of “carrying out immoral and cynical actions that insulted a symbol of the resilience of the Soviet people during the Great Patriotic War”.

Agafonova is banned from Internet posts for two years.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: At least six civilians have been killed and 11 injured in Russia’s latest assault on Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv.

Moscow has tried and failed to overrun Kharkiv, only 30 km (19 miles) from the Russian border throughout Vladimir Putin’s 25-month invasion. But as Russia tries to seize more territory in eastern Ukraine, it has stepped up its deadly drone and missile strikes on the city.

Just after midnight on Saturday, Russia launched three S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from its Belgorod region. Drones struck a residential quarter in the Mala Danylivka area, and there were fatalities in the Shevchenkivskyi district. At least nine high-rise residential buildings, local businesses, three dormitories, several administrative buildings, a service station, and cars were destroyed or damaged.

Russia also fired 32 Iran-type “kamikaze” drones on Ukraine overnight, 28 of which were downed; two Kh-101/555 cruise missiles, and a Kalibr cruise missile.

The cruise missiles and some drones targeted the Kyiv region. All were intercepted. There were no casualties.

In Zaporizhzhia city, industrial enterprises and an aid center for displaced people were struck.

Airstrikes and Threatened Russian Offensive

Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, have emphasized to the international community that bolstered air defenses are needed in the face of the Russian attacks on Kharkiv and other areas.

On Thursday, Zelenskiy said of Russia’s killing of four civilians, including three rescuers:

Russian terrorists will be held accountable for their actions in Kharkiv and for all acts of aggression against our people. We are working with our partners to strengthen the protection of our cities and villages and to protect our citizens. Strengthening Ukraine’s air defense capabilities directly translates into saving lives.

Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak warned on Friday that Russia could target Kharkiv in an offensive at the end of May or beginning of June.

Yermak noted that “Ukraine is approaching a critical moment” amid the six-month blockade of $60.1 billion in aid by Trumpists and hard-right Republicans in the US House.

He expressed hope that Congress would finally break the blockade “this month”:

I don’t believe anybody who represents the party of Ronald Reagan will abandon Ukraine.

Reagan understood the Soviet Union and Russia, and anyone who does will continue to support our fighters because they understand that dictators never stop voluntarily and have to be stopped.

Yermak reiterated, “Without modern air defense systems, it is impossible for us to defend our cities.”