Missiles hit Ukraine shopping mall; G7 pledges to keep pressure on Russia

  • This is not an accidental hit, says Zelenskiy about strike at shopping center
  • Russian attack on frontline eastern city kills eight: Ukraine
  • G7 leaders pledge nearly $30 billion in new aid for Kiev

KREMENCHUK, Ukraine, June 27 (Reuters) – Russian missiles hit a crowded shopping center in central Ukraine on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said as Moscow fought for control of a key eastern city and Western leaders pledged to support Kiev in the war “if while it lasts”.

More than 1,000 people were inside when two Russian rockets hit the shopping center in the town of Kremenchuk, southeast of Kiev, Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram. At least 16 people have been killed and 59 injured, according to Ukrainian emergency services. Rescuers searched through mutilated metal and debris for survivors.

“This is not an accidental hit, this is a calculated Russian attack on exactly this shopping center,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address at night, adding that women and children were inside. He said the death toll could rise.

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Russia has not commented on the strike, which was condemned by the United Nations and Ukraine’s western allies. But his deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, accused Ukraine of using the incident to gain sympathy ahead of a June 28-30 summit of NATO’s military alliance.

“You’ll have to wait and see what our Defense Department will say, but there are already too many notable differences,” Polyanskiy wrote on Twitter.

As night fell in Kremenchuk, firefighters and soldiers brought lights and generators to continue the search. Relatives, some almost in tears and clapping their mouths, lined up at a hotel across the street where rescuers had set up a base.

Kiril Zhebolovsky, 24, was looking for his friend, Ruslan, 22, who worked at the Comfy electronics store and hadn’t heard from him since the blast.

“We messaged him, called him, but nothing,” he said. He left his name and phone number with rescuers in case his friend is found.

The United Nations Security Council will meet on Tuesday at the request of Ukraine after the attack on the shopping center. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the attack was “deplorable”.

The leaders of the Group of Seven Great Democracies, gathered for their annual summit in Germany, condemned what they called a “horrific” attack.

“We are united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims of this brutal attack,” they wrote in a joint statement tweeted by the German government spokesman. “Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held accountable.”

Dmyto Lunin, governor of Poltava, which includes Kremenchuk, said it was the most tragic day for the region in more than four months of war.

“(We) will never forgive our enemies… This tragedy should strengthen and unite us around one goal: victory,” Lunin said on Telegram.

Elsewhere on the battlefield, Ukraine experienced another difficult day after losing the now-destroyed city of Sievierodonetsk after weeks of bombing and street fighting.

Russian artillery pounded Lysychansk, his twin brother, across the Siverskyi Donets River. Lysychansk is the last major city left by Ukraine in the eastern province of Luhansk, a prime target for the Kremlin after Russian forces failed to take the capital Kiev early in the war.

A Russian rocket attack left eight people dead and 21 injured in Lysychansk on Monday, the area’s regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said. There was no immediate Russian comment.

The Ukrainian army said Russian forces were trying to seal off Lysychansk from the south. Reuters could not confirm Russian reports that Moscow’s troops had already entered the city.

‘AS LONG AS IT TAKES’

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” to rid the country of far-right nationalists and ensure Russian security. The war has killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed cities.

At their summit in Germany, G7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, said they would maintain sanctions against Russia for as long as necessary and increase international pressure on the government of President Vladimir Putin and her ally Belarus. .

“Imagine if we allowed Putin to get away with the violent acquisition of large parts of another country, sovereign, independent territory,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC.

The United States said it was finalizing another weapons package for Ukraine that would include long-range air defense systems — weapons Zelenskiy had specifically requested when addressing leaders Monday via video link. read more

In his address to G7 leaders, Zelenskiy again asked for more weapons, US and European officials said. He asked for help with the export of grain from Ukraine and for more sanctions against Russia.

The G7 countries pledged to put further pressure on Russian finances — including a deal to cap the price of Russian oil that a US official said was “close” — and pledged up to $29.5 billion more for Ukraine. read more

“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and support Ukraine for as long as necessary,” said a G7 statement.

The White House said Russia had defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time in more than a century, as sweeping sanctions effectively cut the country off from the global financial system.

Russia rejected the claims and told investors to go to Western financial agents for the money sent, but the bondholders did not receive it. read more

The war has created problems for countries far beyond Europe’s borders, with disruptions to food and energy exports affecting the global economy. read more

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Reporting by Reuters agencies; Written by Angus MacSwan, Nick Macfie and Rami Ayyub; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Catherine Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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