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Russian Missiles Hit Shopping Center in Central Ukrainian City

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This handout picture taken and released by the Ukraine's State Emergency Service on June 27, 2022 shows firefighters putting out the fire in a mall hit by a Russian missile strike in Kremenchuk, killing at least two and injuring dozens more.

Russia carried out a missile strike Monday on a crowded shopping center in a central Ukrainian city and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of a "calculated" attack against civilians.

Zelenskyy said that more than 1,000 civilians were inside the mall in the city of Kremenchuk on Monday when the assault took place. Ukraine's emergency services said at least 16 people were killed and 59 injured.

"This is not an accidental hit, this is a calculated Russian strike exactly onto this shopping center," Zelenskyy said Monday in his nightly video address. He added that the strike "is one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history."

Zelenskyy had said earlier on Telegram that the number of casualties is "impossible to even imagine" and said the shopping center, in a city 300 kilometers southeast of the capital, Kyiv, was "no danger to the Russian army, no strategic value."

Rescue workers continued to work after nightfall searching the rubble for survivors.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted, "The world is horrified by Russia's missile strike today, which hit a crowded Ukrainian shopping mall — the latest in a string of atrocities. We will continue to support our Ukrainian partners and hold Russia, including those responsible for atrocities, to account."

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric called the attack "deplorable" and said the U.N. Security Council would meet Tuesday at Ukraine's request following the strike.

Group of Seven

The missile strike took place as the Group of Seven leading industrialized economies met in Germany's Bavarian Alps and pledged continued support for Ukraine.

Leaders from the group called Monday's missile strike "abominable" and said in a joint statement, "We stand united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims of this brutal attack."

The United States and the other members of the G-7 on Monday imposed new sanctions against Russia for its four-month invasion of Ukraine.

These include measures to cut off Moscow from materials and services needed by its industrial and technology sectors.

The White House said the U.S. will commit $7.5 billion as part of a G-7 effort to help Ukraine cover its short-term budget needs, and that the governments are making "an unprecedented, long-term security commitment to providing Ukraine with financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support as long as it takes."

In a joint communique, the G-7 said, "We remain appalled by and continue to condemn the brutal, unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine by Russia and aided by Belarus. We condemn and will not recognize Russia's continued attempts to redraw borders by force."

Zelenskyy addressed the conference by video link earlier Monday and requested more weapons as well as help exporting grain past Russian blockades.

Meanwhile, ahead of a NATO summit starting Tuesday in Madrid, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance is declaring a sevenfold increase in the number of its troops on standby alert — from 40,000 to more than 300,000.

Stoltenberg said Russia has "chosen confrontation instead of dialogue. We regret that — but of course, then we need to respond to that reality."

He said that NATO "will strengthen our forward defenses. We will enhance our battlegroups in the eastern part of the alliance up to brigade levels."

Battlefield

Russian troops also carried out shelling in the eastern city of Lysychansk on Monday, trying to capture the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk province after seizing control of neighboring Sievierodonetsk.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said the damage to Lysychansk has been "catastrophic."

Haidai urged the remaining civilians to evacuate the city that was home to 100,000 people before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Russia now controls virtually all of Luhansk province, part of the eastern Donbas region that Moscow is trying to take over, one of its major war aims.

Russian forces on Sunday launched new missile attacks against Ukraine's two biggest cities — the capital of Kyiv, and Kharkiv.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said at least two apartment buildings in the city were hit, leaving at least one person dead and four others injured.

Russia ramped up its use of cruise missiles, striking targets across northwestern Ukraine. Air raid sirens blared in several cities.

"It's more of their barbarism," U.S. President Joe Biden said of the Russian strike on Kyiv.

Default

Russia on Monday rejected claims that it defaulted on international debt payments for the first time in a century.

Interest payments totaling $100 million on two bonds were originally due May 27 but carried a 30-day grace period.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia had made the payments in May but that they were blocked by Western sanctions and thus were "not our problem."

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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