Macron says Russia can’t win in Ukraine after mall strike

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KREMENCHUK, Ukraine — The French president denounced Russia’s fiery airstrike on a busy shopping center in Ukraine on Tuesday as a “new war crime” and vowed that the West’s support for Kiev would not waver, saying that Moscow “cannot and cannot may win”.

The strike, which killed at least 18 people in the central city of Kremenchuk, came as leaders of the Group of Seven Nations met in Europe. It was part of an unusually intense barrage of Russian fire across Ukraine, including in the capital Kiev, that renewed international attention as the war dragged on.

At the end of the G-7 summit in Germany, French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to allay those concerns and vowed that the seven leading industrialized democracies would support Ukraine and maintain sanctions against Russia “for as long as necessary and with due diligence.” intensity. †

“Russia cannot and should not win,” he said. He called Monday’s attack on the mall “a new war crime.”

As they have done in other attacks, Russian officials claimed the mall was not the target.

In a virtual speech to the UN Security Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being a “terrorist” and called for Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations. He also urged the UN to establish an international tribunal to investigate Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy ended his speech by asking everyone in the room to pause for the “tens of thousands” of Ukrainian children and adults who died in the war. All councilors rose, including Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky.

How to counter Russia and support Ukraine will also be the focus of a NATO alliance summit this week, whose support has been critical to Kiev’s ability to fend off Moscow’s larger and better-equipped forces. . However, Ukrainian leaders say they need more and better weapons to fend off and even push back Russia from launching an all-out attack in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

As Macron spoke, rescuers combed through the charred rubble of the mall, which officials say was hit when more than 1,000 shoppers and workers arrived in the afternoon.

Kateryna Romashyna, a local resident, told The Associated Press that she had just arrived at the mall when an explosion knocked her down. When another explosion came about 10 minutes later, she realized she had to leave.

“I ran away from the epicenter with all my strength,” she said. She fought back tears, adding, “You have to be a real monster” to attack a mall.

Many of those inside quickly fled the building when an air raid siren sounded and took shelter across the street, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky said. Several of the bodies of those who didn’t make it in time were burned beyond recognition, he said.

In addition to the 18 dead, authorities said 59 were injured, while 21 more were missing.

The attack recalled strikes earlier in the war that hit a theatre, train station and hospital. Zelenskyy called it “one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history”.

Missile attacks continued elsewhere in Ukraine, with authorities in the town of Dnipro reporting workers at a diesel car repair shop trapped in the rubble after an attack by a cruise missile fired from the Black Sea, Ukrainian news agencies reported. The Ukrainian army managed to intercept and destroy other missiles fired at the city, the agencies said.

As the condemnation came from many quarters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made a defiant tone, saying that Russia would continue its offensive until it achieved its goals. He said hostilities could end “before the end of the day” if Ukraine surrendered and complied with Russia’s demands, including recognizing its control over territory it has taken by force.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov claimed that fighter jets fired precision-guided missiles at a depot containing Western weapons and ammunition, detonating and setting fire to the mall. Ukrainian authorities said that in addition to the direct hit on the mall, a factory was also hit, but denied it contained weapons.

Konashenkov also falsely claimed that the mall was not in use.

One survivor, Oleksandr, a shopping mall employee, told the AP from a hospital bed that the mall was packed with customers. He recalled stepping out with a colleague for a cigarette when the siren of the air raid siren went off.

“There was a black tunnel, smoke, fire,” he said. “I started to crawl. I saw the sun up there and my brain told me to save myself.”

Ukrainian Attorney General Iryna Venediktova said the missile attack was one of Russia’s “crimes against humanity”. She stressed that all Ukrainians should remain vigilant and expect a similar strike “every minute”.

On Tuesday, Russian troops attacked the Black Sea town of Ochakiv, damaging apartment buildings and killing two, including a 6-year-old child. Six other people, including four children, were injured. One of them, a 3-month-old baby, is in a coma, officials say.

The unusually fierce wave of fire came as G-7 leaders continued to support Ukraine and prepared new sanctions against Russia, including a price cap on oil and higher tariffs on goods.

Zelenskyy has called for more air defense systems from his Western allies to help his forces fight back. NATO’s support for Ukraine will be a key focus of a summit starting this week in Madrid, and an early signal of unity came on Tuesday as Turkey agreed to lift its opposition to Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted the two Nordic countries to give up their long-standing non-aligned status and apply to join NATO. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had blocked the move, insisting they change their stance on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorists.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned the West that “the more weapons are pumped into Ukraine, the longer the conflict will continue and the longer the pain of the Nazi regime, backed by Western capitals, will last.”

Russia has mistakenly called the war a campaign to “de-Nazify” Ukraine – a country with a democratically elected Jewish president who wants closer ties to the West.

In a sinister message to NATO leaders, Russian state space company Roscosmos released satellite images and the precise coordinates of the conference hall where their summit will be held.

It also posted images and coordinates of the White House, the Pentagon and government headquarters in London, Paris and Berlin — referring to them as “decision-making centers in support of Ukrainian nationalists” in a message on the Telegram app. That wording echoes Putin’s warnings that he could target such centers in response to what he has termed Western aggression.

— One of two Britons sentenced to death by separatist troops in eastern Ukraine has formally appealed, Russia’s Tass news agency reported on Wednesday. The report states that the appeal filed on behalf of Shaun Pinner will be heard within two months.

Pinner, Aiden Aslin and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun were sentenced to death on June 9 and given a month to appeal. The court claimed that they were fighting for Ukraine as mercenaries and thus had no right to protection for prisoners of war. There was no mention of occupations for the other two men.

— The two warring countries continue a sporadic series of prisoner exchanges. Ukraine has exchanged 15 Russian prisoners of war for 16 Ukrainian soldiers and a civilian, Ukraine’s Pravda reported Tuesday.

Ukraine’s Pravda also reported that in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, the mayor was detained on Tuesday and occupation authorities seized his computer’s hard drive and documents after he refused to cooperate with Russian-appointed local officials. The Russian news agency Tass confirmed the arrest.

– Bulgaria said on Tuesday it was expelling 70 Russian diplomats identified as “a threat to national security” and ordered them to leave within five days. A statement from the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this would reduce the staff of the Russian embassy in Sofia “to 23 diplomatic and 25 administrative and technical staff”.

Karmanau reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Associated Press journalists Oleksandr Stashevskyi in Kiev, Ukraine, and Edith M. Lederer of the United Nations contributed to this report.

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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