G7 vows to support Ukraine ‘as long as it takes’
Western countries on Monday pledged unwavering support for Ukraine in the war with Russia, including more sanctions against Moscow and air defense systems, as Ukrainian officials said two Russian missiles hit a shopping center, killing at least 11 people.
The leaders of the Group of Seven Great Democracies, meeting in Germany, 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 lessons for that would be absolutely horrifying. The point I would make against people is that I think the price of freedom is sometimes worth paying.”
The United States said it was finalizing a weapons package for Ukraine that would include long-range air defense systems — weapons Zelenskiy had specifically requested when addressing leaders Monday via video link.
Ukraine, meanwhile, experienced another difficult day at the front after losing the now-destroyed city of Sievierodonetsk after weeks of bombing and street fighting.
Russian artillery shelled Lysychansk, his twin brother across the Siverskyi Donets River, which suffered “catastrophic” damage, according to eastern Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai. He urged citizens to evacuate urgently.
Lysychansk is the last major city left by Ukraine in Luhansk, half of the industrial Donbas region, a prime target for the Kremlin after Russian troops failed to capture the capital Kiev early in the war, now in its fifth month. taken.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said the Russians were trying to cut off Lysychansk from the south. Russian warplanes had also struck near the city, the general staff said in its daily update.
Russian Sunday reports that troops had already invaded Lysychansk could not be confirmed by Reuters.
Two Russian rockets hit the shopping center in the central city of Kremenchuk, southeast of Kiev, killing at least 11 people and injuring 40, senior Ukrainian officials said.
“It makes no sense to hope for the decency and humanity of Russia,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram.
Russia did not immediately comment on the Ukrainian allegations.
Zelensky to G7: Ukraine will only negotiate with Russia from a strong position
A Reuters reporter in Kremenchuk spotted the mall’s charred shell with a collapsed roof. Firefighters and soldiers pulled out mangled metal and other debris as they searched for survivors.
Dmytro Lunin, the regional governor, said it is unlikely that many survivors would be found in the rubble because “it was a big fire and there was a lot of smoke”.
He said there was no military target nearby that Russia could have targeted, adding: “It is an act of terrorism against civilians.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the attack was “deplorable”. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it the “last in a series of atrocities”.
‘We sent him messages’
As night fell, rescuers 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.
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. It denies targeting civilians in a conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed cities.
Russian forces also control territory to the south, including the port city of Mariupol, which fell after a long and devastating siege.
A senior US defense official said, on condition of anonymity, that Russia carried out about 60 attacks against Ukraine this weekend.
The official said a weekend strike in Kiev that hit apartments was close to a factory making ammunition for Ukrainian troops.
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.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington was finalizing a package of long-range air defense systems.
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.
“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and will support Ukraine for as long as necessary,” said a G7 statement.
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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.
The war has created problems for countries far beyond Europe’s borders, with disruptions to food and energy exports affecting the global economy.
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