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G7 denounces 'war crime' as Russian strike kills shoppers

Eighteen people were killed in the attack.

Image: AP/PA Images

A RUSSIAN MISSILE strike on a crowded mall in central Ukraine killed at least 18 people in what Group of Seven leaders branded “a war crime” at a meeting in Germany where they looked to step up sanctions on Moscow.

The leaders vowed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and those responsible would be held to account for yesterday’s strike in the city of Kremenchuk, carried out during the shopping mall’s busiest hours.

“Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime,” they said in a statement condemning the “abominable attack.”

Ukraine accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling it “one of the most brazen terrorist acts in European history” in his evening broadcast posted on Telegram.

“A peaceful town, an ordinary shopping centre — women, children ordinary civilians inside,” said Zelenskyy, who earlier shared a video of the mall engulfed in flames with dozens of rescuers and a fire truck outside.

Dmytro Lunin, governor of the Poltava region where Kremenchuk is located, said Tuesday that 18 people were killed in the attack.

Fifty-nine were wounded, according to emergency services chief Sergiy Kruk.

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

In a separate attack yesterday, Russian rockets killed at least eight civilians as they were out collecting water in the eastern city of Lysychansk, said Lugansk region governor Sergiy Gaiday.

Lysychansk has become the focus of heavy Russian attacks following the fall of its twin city, Severodonetsk.

“Our defenders are holding the line, but the Russians are turning the city into rubble… the infrastructure is completely destroyed,” Gaiday said on Telegram.

After failing to capture Kyiv following their February invasion, Russian troops have focused on seizing a swathe of eastern Ukraine, and have been gaining ground.

A strike in Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s northeast, killed four people and wounded 19 others, including four children, authorities said.

‘Cruelty, barbarism’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking from the G7 gathering in the Bavarian Alps, said the Kremenchuk attack demonstrated Putin’s “depths of cruelty and barbarism.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the world was “horrified”, while UN chief Antonio Guterres’s office condemned the strike as “totally deplorable”.

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the attack as an “abomination”.

Diplomats said Ukraine requested a meeting today on the strikes at the UN Security Council, where Russia wields veto power but has not been able to prevent critical discussion of the invasion.

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US President Joe Biden and his peers from the wealthy Group of Seven nations are seeking to tighten the economic screws on Moscow, even as soaring energy and food prices drive up global inflation.

russia-ukraine-war A Ukrainian State Emergency Service firefighter reacts as he works to extinguish a fire at a shopping center burned after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk. Source: Efrem Lukatsky via PA

“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the G7 said in a statement on the summit’s second day.

Zelenskyy, addressing the leaders virtually, had urged them to “intensify sanctions” to help end the war before the bitter winter.

“We will continue to increase pressure on Putin,” summit host German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in response. “This war has to come to an end.”

G7 leaders are discussing a price cap on Russian oil imports and sanctions targeting Russia’s defence sector.

But European officials fear difficulty in implementation.

To help bring down surging prices, France urged oil-producing nations to raise output in an “exceptional manner” and Macron backed a return to the market of crude from Iran and Venezuela, both under US sanctions.

On Sunday, the G7 announced plans to stop imports of Russian gold.

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