NATO says Moscow’s offensive has sparked a shift in its defence approach and G7 leaders assert they will explore steps to cap Russia's income from oil sales amid the Ukraine conflict — now in its 125th day.

More than 4,634 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched its offensive on February 24 according to the UN.
More than 4,634 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched its offensive on February 24 according to the UN. (AFP)

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

US implements G7 sanctions targeting Russian military, gold

Washington has announced steps to implement the new sanctions on Russia as agreed by G7 leaders, targeting Moscow's defence industry, raising tariffs and banning gold imports from the country. The moves blacklist 70 entities and 29 individuals, and prohibits them from doing business with or conducting financial transactions with US institutions.

The latest moves "strike at the heart of Russia's ability to develop and deploy weapons and technology used for Vladimir Putin's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine," the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

The sanctions target Rostec, Russia's largest defence conglomerate, and other firms critical to the defence industry, as well as military units and officers implicated in human rights abuses in Ukraine, Treasury said.

We once again reaffirm our commitment to working alongside our partners and allies to impose additional severe sanctions in response to Russia's war against Ukraine

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

Elected mayor of Ukraine's Kherson arrested by pro-Russian forces: reports

Pro-Moscow forces have detained Igor Kolykhayev, the elected mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, Russian media has reported.

"Ex-mayor Kolykhayev has been detained," Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-backed Kherson administration, told state news agency RIA Novosti. He described the Ukrainian official as a "nationalist" hero who has "very much harmed the process of denazification."

Kolykhayev, the elected Kherson mayor, was "kidnapped" by pro-Russian forces on Tuesday morning, his counselor Galyna Lyashevska said on Facebook. Kherson fell into Russian hands barely a week into its military operation.

UK military chiefs urge army 'mobilisation' over Russia threat

British military leaders have warned that UK armed forces must "mobilise" in response to the threat posed by Russia, with the army's new chief invoking the Allies' struggle against Nazi Germany.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Patrick Sanders, a general and the army's most senior officer, both argued in separate speeches that Britain's army must ramp up its readiness following Moscow's attack on Ukraine.

Wallace, who has been in post for three years, also suggested the government will need to further boost defence spending to meet the heightened threat.

Bulgaria to expel 70 Russian diplomatic staff: PM

Bulgaria will expel 70 Russian diplomatic staff, the EU country's prime minister has announced, the biggest number ordered out in one-go from the Balkan nation.

"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.

"Everyone who works against the interests of Bulgaria will be called upon to return to their country. We expect a full 70-seat plane to fly back to Moscow," Petkov added. Those identified to be a "threat to national security" must leave by July 3, the foreign ministry said.

Ukraine arrests 'Russian agent' who guided strike that killed 50 troops: SBU

Ukraine's security service has said it arrested a former Soviet KGB agent who helped direct Russian missile strikes that killed over 50 soldiers at a military facility in the country's west in March.

The suspect sent the locations of targets at the Yavoriv military training centre to contacts in an unspecified Russian agency using the Telegram messaging app, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and local prosecutors said.

"As a result of rocket strikes on the Yavoriv training range over 50 service personnel died, and al most 150 received injuries," the SBU said on Telegram. The suspect, a native of the western city of Lviv, is being held in detention and investigated for treason, the prosecutor's office said.

Rescuers search rubble in Ukraine's Dnipro after missile strike

Rescue workers have searched for people under rubble in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro after a Russian missile strike in the region, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk region has said.

The official, Valentyn Reznychenko, said that railway infrastructure and an industrial enterprise had been damaged in the city and that a services company was burning.

US accuses Chinese companies of supporting Russia's military

The Biden administration says it has added 36 companies to a trade blacklist, accusing some of the targeted Chinese firms of providing support to Russia’s military and defence industrial base, following Moscow's assault on Ukraine.

Targets also include companies from Russia, UAE, Lithuania, Pakistan, Singapore the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, according to the Federal Register entry.

Ukraine crisis stifling Black Sea trade, logistics: UN

The conflict in Ukraine is stifling trade and logistics of the country and the Black Sea region, increasing global vessel demand and the cost of shipping worldwide, the UN’s trade agency has said.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) called for urgent action to reopen Ukraine’s ports for international shipping so the country’s grains can reach overseas markets at lower shipping costs. Increased costs lead to higher consumer prices and threaten to widen the global poverty gap, said a UNCTAD report.

“Grains are of particular concern given the leading role of the Russian Federation and Ukraine in agrifood markets and its nexus to food security and poverty reduction,” read the report

NATO summit to open as leader warns of 'dangerous' world

Russia's offensive against Ukraine has sparked a "fundamental shift" in NATO’s approach to defence, and member states will have to boost their military spending in an increasingly unstable world, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said.

He said the June 28-30 Madrid meeting would chart a blueprint for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world.” "To be able to defend in a more dangerous world we have to invest more in our defence," Stoltenberg said.

He also urged alliance leaders arriving in Madrid to keep up their backing for Ukraine as it faces an onslaught from Russia.

It is extremely important that we are ready to continue to provide support because Ukraine now faces a brutality which we haven't seen in Europe since the Second World War

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

NATO says does not regard China as adversary but worried over Russia ties

NATO does not see China as an adversary but it is concerned about Beijing's ever closer ties with Moscow since Russia's offensive against Ukraine began on February 24, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said.

"We don't regard China as an adversary," Stoltenberg said on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid, adding that China would soon be the biggest economy in the world and that NATO needed to engage with Beijing on issues like climate change.

"But we are disappointed by the fact that China has not been able to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that China is spreading many of the false narratives about NATO, the West, and also that China and Russia are more close now than they have ever been before," he added.

US to announce 'long-term' military reinforcements in Europe: Official

The United States will announce new long-term new military deployments across Europe at the NATO summit in Madrid, a US official has said.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said there would be "specific announcements tomorrow on land, sea and air of additional force posture commitments over the long term". The forces will be focused on the Baltics, Balkans and NATO's eastern flank bordering Russia, he said.

Russian oligarch Deripaska says destroying Ukraine a 'colossal mistake'

Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has said it was a "colossal mistake" for Russia to destroy Ukraine with its military operation, a rare rebuke from a member of Russia's elite.

"Is it in Russia's interest to destroy Ukraine? Of course not, that would be a colossal mistake," he told a rare press conference in Moscow.

Russia to block renewal of OSCE's Ukraine mission

Russia will by Thursday midnight block the renewal of the OSCE permanent mission in Ukraine, ending a 23-year presence in the country, say diplomatic sources.

Russia "has the power to block the mandate at the end of June and it said it was going to do so", Danish ambassador Henrik Villadsen, the mission's project coordinator since 2018, told AFP.

The mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) helps Ukraine bring its legislation, institutions and practices into line with democratic standards. It employs 110 people, mostly Ukrainians, on about 40 projects. Their work includes improving water quality, de-mining work, fighting human trafficking, corruption and domestic violence, said Villadsen.

Kiev says 17 Ukrainians freed in prisoner exchange

Seventeen Ukrainians, mostly servicemen, have been freed in the latest prisoner exchange with Moscow, Ukrainian intelligence has said.

The main intelligence directorate of Ukraine's defence ministry said two officers, 14 soldiers and one civilian were freed. Five of them are injured and require urgent treatment, it said in a post of Telegram.

Ukraine released 15 Russian prisoners as part of the swap, it added. Several exchanges between Moscow and Kiev have taken place since Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24.

Russia's Lavrov says Western arms supplies dragging out conflict

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said the more Western countries send weapons to Ukraine the longer the conflict will last.

Speaking at a news conference during a visit to Turkmenistan, Lavrov said Russia did not target a shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Monday, where dozens died following a Russian strike.

Echoing a statement issued by Russia's defence ministry earlier on Tuesday, Lavrov told reporters the mall was empty at the time a fire occurred as a result of Russia hitting an arms depot storing Western weapons that was next to the shopping centre.

Russia's Lavrov to join G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Indonesia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend a meeting of his counterparts of the Group of 20 biggest economies (G20) in Bali next week, a Russian embassy official in Indonesia has said.

Denis Tetiushin, a spokesperson at the Russian embassy in Jakarta, confirmed to Reuters that Lavrov would join the July 7-8 meeting on the island of Bali. An Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson was not able to immediately confirm that.

Russia's offensive against Ukraine, which it calls a "special operation," had overshadowed G20 proceedings in April, with several Western countries threatening to boycott a leaders' summit if Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends.

6.2 million people displaced inside Ukraine: UN

More than 6.2 million people are now estimated to be displaced within Ukraine due to Russia's onslaught, having fled their homes but stayed inside the country, the UN has said. This is in addition to the 5.26 million people who have fled Ukraine and been registered as refugees in other European countries since the conflict began.

As of June 23, there were an estimated 6.275 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine, the United Nations's International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

That marks the lowest number of IDPs recorded by the IOM since the Russian operation began on February 24. The UN agency, which has carried out six surveys since February, said the IDP number peaked at an estimated eight million in the fourth survey published on May 3.

Kremlin says Russian offensive will end when Ukraine surrenders

The Kremlin has said that Russia will halt its offensive as soon as Ukraine surrenders, urging Kiev to order its troops to lay down their arms.

"The Ukrainian side can stop everything before the end of today," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"An order for the nationalist units to lay down their arms is necessary," he said, adding Kiev had to fulfil a list of Moscow's demands.

Russia cannot, should not win in Ukraine: France's Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Russia “cannot and should not win” the conflict in Ukraine, as its terrible toll was on full view the day after a Russian missile strike hit a shopping mall, killing at least 20 people.

Speaking at the end of the Group of Seven summit in Germany, Macron said the seven industrialised democracies would support Ukraine and maintain sanctions against Russia “as long as necessary, and with the necessary intensity.”

Macron has also urged NATO allies to show they are united at a meeting in Spain, where the issue of Finland and Sweden's membership bids are due to be examined. "The message that should come out of Madrid is a message of unity and strength for member countries as well as for those that wish to join and whose applications we are supporting," he said.

Ukrainian president accuses Russia of 'terrorism'

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia must be labelled a "state sponsor of terrorism" after a missile strike on a crowded shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk killed at least 20.

"Only total insane terrorists, who should have no place on Earth, can strike missiles at civilian objects," Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel, accusing Russia of carrying out "calculated strikes" at civilian infrastructure.

"Russia must be recognised as a state sponsor of terrorism. The world can and therefore must stop Russian terror," Zelenskyy added.

EU condemns Russian missile strike on mall in Ukraine

The EU has condemned the Russian missile strike on a shopping mall in Ukraine's Kremenchuk city that killed at least 18 people and injured many others.

"The EU condemns in the strongest possible terms the Russian missile strike on a shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk," said a statement from the office of Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief. "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families."

Borell said "continued shelling" of civilians and civilian objects is reprehensive, totally unacceptable, and amounts to war crimes.

Russia says missile hit weapons depot in Kremenchuk shopping centre

Russia's defence ministry has denied hitting a shopping mall in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk with missiles, saying it had struck a weapons depot and a subsequent explosion of ammunition had triggered a fire in the nearby mall.

At least 16 people were killed on Monday in what Kiev said was a direct Russian missile strike against the busy shopping centre. 

Moscow rejected those accounts, saying it had hit a legitimate military target in the city, and that the shopping centre was not in use.

G7 denounces 'war crime' as Russian strike kills shoppers

The Group of Seven leaders branded a Russian missile strike on a crowded mall in central Ukraine "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 Monday'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."

Russia expands US sanctions list to include Biden's wife and daughter

Russia has expanded its US 'stop-list', including in it the wife and daughter of President Joe Biden as well as other prominent figures among 25 Americans.

The step was taken "as a response to the ever-expanding US sanctions against Russian political and public figures," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia will be greater threat to European security after Ukraine: UK

Russia will likely be an even greater threat to European security after the conflict in Ukraine than it was before and the British army must be prepared, its Chief of the General Staff Patrick Sanders has said.

Sanders, who became chief of the general staff this month, used his first speech to warn that the army must be ready to fight to "avert conflict", in what appeared to be an appeal for modernisation and possibly further defence spending.

"While Russia's conventional capability will be much reduced for a time at least, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's declared intent recently to restore the lands of historic Russia makes any respite temporary and the threat will become even more acute," Sanders said in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute.

UK working on getting Ukraine's grain out

G7 leaders are working on finding a way of letting Ukraine export its grain, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

"We're working on it, we're all working on it," he said at the start of a five-way meeting with France's Emmanuel Macron, Italy's Mario Draghi, Germany's Olaf Scholz and the US's Joe Biden, when asked if they were going to get the grain out of Ukraine.

Ukraine's bulk grain exports are being hindered by a Russian blockade of its Black Sea ports, forcing exporters to use less efficient land routes.

G7 leaders wrap up summit meant to bolster Ukraine support

The Group of Seven developed economies have wrapped up their summit intended to send a strong signal of long-term commitment to Ukraine's future, ensuring that Russia pays a higher price for its offensive while also attempting to alleviate a global hunger crisis and show unity against climate change.

The leaders of the US, Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Canada and Japan pledged to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” after conferring by video link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Officials have said during the summit that leaders of the major economies are preparing to unveil plans to pursue a price cap on Russian oil, raise tariffs on Russian goods and impose other new sanctions.

Russia's Medvedev: Any NATO encroachment on Crimea could lead to WW3

Any encroachment on the Crimea peninsula by a NATO member-state could amount to a declaration of war on Russia which could lead to "World War Three," Russia's former president, Dmitry Medvedev, has said.

"For us, Crimea is a part of Russia. And that means forever. Any attempt to encroach on Crimea is a declaration of war against our country," Medvedev told the news website Argumenty i Fakty.

"And if this is done by a NATO member-state, this means conflict with the entire North Atlantic alliance; a World War Three. A complete catastrophe."

Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, also said that if Finland and Sweden joined NATO, Russia would strengthen its borders and would be "ready for retaliatory steps," and that could include the prospect of installing Iskander hypersonic missiles "on their threshold."

For live updates from Monday (June 27), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies