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Russia steps up missile strikes on Ukraine as G7 leaders gather


By Reuters, published by CNA, plus BBC

Kyiv – Russian missiles hit an apartment block and kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Sunday (June 26), in strikes US President Joe Biden condemned as “barbarism” as world leaders gathered in Europe to discuss further sanctions against Moscow.

Up to four explosions shook central Kyiv in the early hours, in the first such attack on the city in weeks.

“The Russians hit Kyiv again. Missiles damaged an apartment building and a kindergarten,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s administration.

A Reuters photographer saw a large blast crater by a playground in a kindergarten that had smashed windows.

Deputy Mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said one person was killed and six wounded. He said explosions heard later in other parts of Kyiv were air defences destroying further incoming missiles.

Russia has stepped up air strikes on Ukraine this weekend, which has also seen the fall of a strategic eastern city to pro-Russian forces.

“It’s more of their barbarism,” said Biden, referring to the missile strikes on Kyiv, as leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) rich democracies gathered for a summit in Germany.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said G7 countries should respond to the latest missile strikes by imposing further sanctions on Russia and providing more heavy weapons to Ukraine.

As Europe’s biggest land conflict since World War II entered its fifth month, the Western alliance supporting Kyiv was starting to show signs of strain as leaders fret about the growing economic cost.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the West needed to maintain a united front against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The price of backing down, the price of allowing Putin to succeed, to hack off huge parts of Ukraine, to continue with his programme of conquest, that price will be far, far higher,” he told reporters.

Missiles hit central city

Life had been returning to normal in Kyiv after fierce resistance held off Russian advances in the early phase of the war, although air raid sirens regularly sound across the city.

There had been no major strikes on Kyiv since early June.

The city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said on the Telegram messaging app that some people were trapped in the rubble of a nine-storey apartment block after Sunday’s strike.

“They have pulled out a seven-year-old girl,” Klitschko said. “She is alive. Now they’re trying to rescue her mother.”

A Ukrainian air force spokesperson said the strike was carried out with 4-6 long-range missiles fired from Russian bombers more than 1,000 kilometres away in the southern Russian region of Astrakhan.

Russian missiles also struck the central city of Cherkasy, which until now had been largely untouched by bombardment, according to regional authorities, who said one person had been killed and five others wounded.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the attack also hit a strategic bridge linking western Ukraine and the eastern battlefields. “They are trying to limit the transfer of our reserves and Western weapons to the east,” he said in a message to Reuters.

Russia’s defence ministry said it had used high-precision weapons to strike Ukrainian army training centres in the regions of Chernihiv, Zhytomyr and Lviv, an apparent reference to strikes reported by Ukraine on Saturday. There was no immediate comment about Sunday’s strikes on Kyiv or Cherkasy.

Russia denies targeting civilians, but Ukraine and the West accuse Russian forces of war crimes in a war that has killed thousands, sent millions fleeing Ukraine and destroyed cities.

UK joins ban on imports of Russian gold

The UK, US, Canada and Japan will ban imports of Russian gold in an effort to hit Moscow’s ability to fund the war in Ukraine.

The UK PM said the move would “strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine”.

Gold exports were worth £12.6bn ($15.4bn) to Russia in 2021, and the UK says their importance has increased since the invasion as oligarchs rush to buy bullion to avoid sanctions.

It comes as the G7 group of the world’s richest nations meet in Germany.

US President Biden suggested the other G7 nations – Germany, France and Italy – would also join the ban.

“Together, the G7 will announce that we will ban the import of Russian gold, a major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia,” he said in a tweet.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding. The UK and our allies are doing just that.”

With London a major global trading hub for gold, the UK government said the move would have a huge impact on President Putin’s ability to raise funds.


Top: Smoke rises after a missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 26, 2022. Photo: Reuters /Anna Voitenko and published by Channel NewsAsia

First insert: A show of unity: G7 leaders at a summit in Bavaria, Germany. Photo: Getty Images and published by BBC

Second insert: A missile caused this crater in a residential area of Kharkiv on Sunday. Photo: Reuters and published by BBC

Third insert: Some gold bars. Photo: Getty Images and published by BBC

Front Page: A Russian missile wrecked a nine-storey apartment block in central Kyiv. Photo: Getty Images and published by BBC

Also read: Ukrainian army leaving battered city for fortified positions

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Russian gains in Ukraine’s east indicate a shift in momentum in the war

 Pounded by Russian offensive in the east, Ukraine rules out ceasefire


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