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Outrage over 'brutal' attack on Ukraine mall

June 28, 2022

The leaders of the G7 condemned the attack on a crowded shopping center in central Ukraine, saying it could constitute a possible "war crime."

Ukrainian firefighters work to take away debris at a shopping center burned after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk
Up to 1,000 people were in the shopping center when the missile strike took place, Ukrainian authorities sayImage: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo/picture alliance
  • At least 18 killed in missile strike on shopping mall
  • G7 says will support Ukraine for "as long as necessary"
  • Turkey lifts opposition to Finland, Sweden's NATO bid
  • Germany and Netherlands to send more heavy weapons
  • Italian PM says Putin will not be present at G20

This article was last updated at 22:03 UTC/GMT

This live updates article has now closed. Click here for the latest developments in Russia's war on Ukraine.

Germany, Netherlands to deliver more howitzers to Ukraine

The defense ministers of Germany and the Netherlands Tuesday announced that their countries would send a further six Howitzer 2000s to Ukraine in its struggle to fend off invading Russian forces. 

The delivery will see each country deliver three artillery weapons on top of 12 howitzers they recently delivered to Kyiv.

The announcement, made at the NATO summit convening in Madrid, Spain, comes days after Germany finally sent its first heavy weapons of the war, a fact for which it has been roundly criticized both at home and abroad.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht also announced Germany's intent to provide a division of 15,000 troops to NATO's high-readiness force confronting Moscow's aggression. 

"Germany is ready to do its share, NATO must be strong and this needs to show in troop numbers as well," she said. The contingency, which will be deployed in 2023, will include some 65 planes and 20 ships.

Turkey backs Finland, Sweden joining NATO

Turkey on Tuesday backed down from its threat to veto Finnish and Swedish bids to join the NATO military alliance. The three countries signed a memorandum of agreement after a meeting brokered by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at a summit in Madrid, Spain.

The two Scandinavian gave up years of military non-alignment policy to apply for admission to NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Finland shares a 1,300-kilometer (810-mile) border with Russia. 

Turkey had previously refused to consent to membership for either country, demanding they end support for Kurdish groups Ankara views as terrorists, lift an arms embargo put in place over Turkish incursions into Syria, and extradite individuals given political asylum and whom Turkey accuses of participating in a 2016 coup attempt.

NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg said, "The door is open — the joining of Finland and Sweden into NATO will take place." 

The US called the breakthrough "a shot in the arm" for NATO.  

A formal invitation is expected during the summit, yet each of NATO's 30 member states will have to individually ratify acceptance in their individual parliaments — a process that could take as long as a year to complete.

German foreign minister puts focus on Ukraine and climate crisis

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at a public forum on day one of the NATO summit in Madrid that Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to end the war so that we can deal with other major problems facing the world.

"We don't know how long this war will continue," Baerbock said. "It can stop tomorrow if the Russian president ends the bombing… he can end the war tomorrow and then we can face all the challenges that we have anyhow in the world."

But until he does, Germany needs to continue delivering weapons to Ukraine because soldiers and civilians are still dying.

"In the middle of this fight for the freedom, for the peace and liberty for Ukraine, we still have to keep up the efforts fighting the climate crisis because it is the disaster of the 21st century," the Green party lawmaker added.

Bulgaria expels 70 Russian diplomats

The eastern EU member state announced on Tuesday that it will kick out another 70 Russian diplomats from the country.

"Bulgaria is going to expel 70 Russian diplomats... Our services identified them as people who worked against our interests," Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told reporters.

Bulgaria has expelled Russian diplomatic staff before, but this would mark the biggest number told to leave in one go.

Mayor of occupied Kherson arrested by pro-Russian forces

The elected mayor of the Ukrainian city of Kherson, Igor Kolykhayev, was arrested by occupying pro-Russian forces on Tuesday morning, Russian media reported.

Kolykhayev's counselor Galyna Lyashevska said on Facebook that he had been "kidnapped."

Lyashevska said that the mayor's arrest came after he refused to cooperate with the occupying forces.

Russian troops took control of the southern city shortly after the invasion began and appointed their own "administration" in April, including replacing Kolykhayev with Oleksandr Kobets.

US imposes new round of sanctions against Russia

The US Treasury Department announced on Tuesday that it had ramped up the pressure on Russia by bringing in sanctions against the import of Russian gold as well as against some 70 entities and 29 individuals.

"Targeting Russia’s defense industry will degrade [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s capabilities and further impede his war against Ukraine, which has already been plagued by poor morale, broken supply chains, and logistical failures," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in the statement.

The sanctions aim to reduce Russia's ability to develop and deploy weapons against Ukraine. Gold was also targeted, in line with agreements made during the G7 summit in Germany. Russia produces around 10% of globally mined gold each year and is a crucial asset for Russia's central bank.

Destruction of Ukraine would be a 'colossal mistake,' Russian tycoon says

Oleg Deripaska, a wealthy Russian businessman and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin questioned the reasoning behind the invasion on Tuesday in a rare public criticism of the war.

"I'm troubled by how quickly we abandoned everything that was achieved [economically] in the 90s, then we abandoned everything that we achieved in the 2000s, and now we are sitting and waiting for victory. Victory of what? Whose victory?" Deripaska asked.

"I think that destroying Ukraine would be a colossal mistake, including for us," he added.

The oligarch is the founder of the Russian aluminum giant Rusal and is under Western sanctions. He said it is "obvious" that the sanctions have hit Russia harder than they've hit Europe.

But the 54-year-old, whose alleged London home was briefly occupied by protesting squatters in March, sees little threat to Putin's control.

"There is no potential for regime change in Russia. The opposition preferred beautiful European views and retreated from the life of the country," Deripaska said.

Putin will not be present at G20, Italian PM says

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not go to the G20 meeting being hosted in Indonesia in November, citing Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

"Regarding the presence of President Putin at the G20, the Indonesian president has ruled it out, he was categorical, [Putin] will not come," Draghi told reporters at the G7 summit in Germany.

"There may be a remote intervention, we'll see," the Italian prime minister added.

NATO chief: Russia has deeply altered the alliance

The Secretary-General of NATO says the Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered a "fundamental shift" in the alliance's defense policy, and

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said members would need to invest more in military spending in what is now a more unstable world.

Stoltenberg spoke as the alliance's leaders began gathering Tuesday in Madrid. The summit is expected to set the course of the alliance for the coming years.

Stoltenberg said members would map out a future for the alliance "in a more dangerous and unpredictable world."

Top of the agenda, he explained, would be strengthening defenses against Russia and supporting Ukraine.

Stoltenberg added that members "hope to make progress" in breaking a logjam over applications by Sweden and Finland to become NATO's newest members.

Turkey has so far blocked the move, saying the nations must change their approach to Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey says are terrorists.

G7 to support Ukraine 'as long as necessary'

Leaders of the world's wealthiest democracies said they took a united  stance to support Ukraine for "as long as necessary."

The final statement from the Group of Seven summit in Germany said the countries would "explore'' far-reaching steps to cap Russia's income from oil sales. However, the statement left out key details on how the fossil fuel price caps would work in practice.

Speaking at the end of the G7 summit at Bavaria's Schloss Elmau, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said leaders would work to counter the Russian narrative that only the West is opposed to the invasion of Ukraine. The chancellor said there was overall agreement globally that inviolate borders and state sovereignty are essential to world peace. He said it was necessary to drive up the cost of the war for Russia.

Scholz also said it had been agreed that a Marshall Plan was needed for Ukraine. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the media following the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau
Scholz was speaking as the G7 summit came to and end at Schloss Elmau in BavariaImage: Leonhard Foeger/REUTERS

Zelenskyy: Russia is state sponsor of terrorism

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says  Russia must be labeled a "state sponsor of terrorism" after Moscow's forces hit a shopping mall with X-22 air-to-surface missiles fired from Tu-22 long-range bombers.

The attack in the city of Kremenchuk killed at least 18. 

"Only total insane terrorists, who should have no place on Earth, can strike missiles at civilian objects... Russia must be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism," Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel.

Russia bans Jill Biden, 24 other Americans

Moscow announced that US President Joe Biden's wife, Jill Biden, his daughter and 23 other Americans were banned from Russia.

"As a reaction to the constantly expanding US sanctions against Russian political and public figures, 25 American citizens are added to a 'stop list,'" the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a note accompanying 

Russia says Kremenchuk strike targeted arms depot

The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday’s missile strike was aimed at a weapons depot in the city of Kremenchuk, and the damage at the shopping mall was caused by a fire triggered by the ammunition explosion. 

Russia said its missile targeted the arms depot, causing an explosion, which then led to a fire at the mall.

At least 18 people were killed and several remain missing after the missile strike on the shopping mall, which Russian authorities say was closed during the attack. 

Ukraine needs missile defense systems, Zelenskyy tells NATO

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg that his country needed missile defense systems in the face of Russian attacks.

Ahead of a NATO summit, Zelenskyy took to Twitter, saying he "stressed the importance of a powerful missile defense system for Ukraine to prevent Russian terrorist attacks."

Several missing after mall attack

Authorities in Ukraine’s Poltava region said 36 people were still missing after the Russian missile attack on a mall in the city of Kremenchuk. 

Poltava Governor Dmytro Lunin said hundreds of emergency personnel were at the scene as rescuers searched the rubble for more victims. On Telegram, he also posted images of a crane clearing away metal debris.

UK intelligence: Russian strikes across Ukraine 'unusually intense'

Russia launched an "unusually intense wave of strikes" across Ukraine over the weekend, the latest intelligence report by the British Defense Ministry said.

Between June 24 and 26, Moscow unleashed a wave of strikes using long-range missiles, including the Soviet-era AS-4 KITCHEN and the modern AS-23a KODIAK missiles, it added. 

The missiles, designed for targets of strategic importance, were fired from both Belarusian and Russian airspace, according to the report. However, Moscow has been using them in large numbers for tactical advantage.

This comes as Ukrainian forces consolidate their positions in the city of Lysychansk after falling back from nearby Sieverodonetsk in the eastern Donbas region.

Putin guarantees fertilizer deliveries to Brazil

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, that Russia would maintain its delivery of fertilizers to Brazil. The leaders also discussed issues of  "food security" and "energy insecurity" over the phone.

The Kremlin said Putin "stressed that Russia is committed to carrying out its obligations to guarantee the uninterrupted delivery of Russian fertilizers to Brazilian farmers."

He also asked for "the restoration of the architecture of free commerce of food products and fertilizers that have collapsed due to Western sanctions" against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Brazil imports over 80% of its fertilizers, more than 20% of which come from Russia. 

Rating agency confirms Russia's international debt default

Russia has defaulted on its international debts after failing to make interest payments on two government bonds, rating agency Moody’s said after a 30-day grace period expired on Monday.

Moscow's last foreign debt default dates back to 1918, following the Bolshevik Revolution. Its last sovereign default was over decades ago, in 1998, after falling oil prices and the collapse of the ruble led to a financial crisis.

The Kremlin, for its part, has said the default label is artificial, as it has the funds to pay its debt but it was unable to access its foreign reserves due to Western sanctions.

"There is money and there is also the readiness to pay," Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said last month of the looming default, calling the situation "artificially created" by "unfriendly" powers.

Death toll from mall airstrike climbs to 18

At least 18 people have now been confirmed dead as emergency workers continue to clear rubble at the Kremenchuk shopping center that was targeted by a Russian airstrike, said Dmytro Lunin, governor of the Poltava region where Kremenchuk is.

The head of Ukraine's State Emergency Service, Sergiy Kruk, said on Telegram early on Tuesday that workers were still clearing debris from the site and extinguishing the remaining fires.

"All response groups are working in intense mode," Kruk said. "The work will go on around the clock."

Germany's gas storage facilities over 60% full ahead of winter

Germany's gas storage facilities crossed the 60% mark late Monday, a slight increase from figures reported over the weekend, as the country attempts to ramp up gas reserves ahead of winter. 

With Russian deliveries impacted, the German government is looking to reach at least 90% of storage capacity by the beginning of November. On Monday, figures from Europe's gas infrastructure operator GIE showed German storage facilities were 60.26% full – 0.34% up from Sunday.

These facilities compensate for potential fluctuations in gas consumption, forming a buffer for the energy market. However, even if the German storage facilities were full by late autumn, reserves would not be enough to carry the country through the winter. 

Without Russian deliveries, the reserves would meet demand for 2.5 months in an average winter, according to Klaus Müller, the president of Germany's Federal Network Agency, which regulates essential services like gas supplies.

Former Russian president threatens retaliation if NATO expands

Dmitry Medvedev has threatened to place Iskander hypersonic missiles on NATO's doorstep if Finland and Sweden join the military alliance.

The former Russian president, who is now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, made the comment in an interview with Argumenty i Fakty, a government-owned newspaper.

Medvedev said Russia would strengthen its borders and would be "ready for retaliatory steps" if the two Nordic countries are admitted into the alliance.

Sweden and Finland both formally applied to join NATO last month, pending ongoing talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to exercise his veto power.

In the same interview, Medvedev also threatened the prospect of "World War Three" if any NATO member were to "encroach" on Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

International outrage grows over missile strike on mall

World leaders sharply condemned a deadly Russian missile strike on a crowded shopping center in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk.

In a joint statement issued late on Monday night, the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations described the strike as a "brutal" and "abominable" attack.

"Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime. Russian President [Vladimir] Putin and those responsible will be held to account," read a statement by leaders attending a G7 summit in southern Germany.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the world was "horrified" by the missile strike.

The office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said the attack on civilian infrastructure was "totally deplorable."

The Russian government has not yet commented on the strike.

What happened in Russia's war in Ukraine on Monday

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the G7 summit being held in southern Germany via video link. He called on the heads of the states of the seven rich nations to do everything to end the war before winter.

The G7 members pledged to support Ukraine for as long as it takes and discussed introducing a price cap on Russian oil.

At least 13 civilians were killed when a Russian missile strike hit a busy shopping mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk. The attack was met with widespread condemnation.

Zelenskyy said that there had been over 1,000 people in the mall at the time of the attack.

Another eight civilians were killed while collecting water in the frontline city of Lysychansk in the eastern region of Luhansk, the regional governor said.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced plans to increase the number of combat-ready troops from 40,000 to over 300,000 in the wake of Russian aggression.

A Russian hacking group said it was behind a cyber attack on Lithuania in response to the Baltic country's decision to block the movement of goods to the enclave of Kaliningrad in line with sanctions.

Click here to catch up on Monday's developments on Russia's war in Ukraine.

js,zc,ab/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)