Zelenskiy To Address G7 Summit As Russia Launches Deadly Strikes On Ukrainian Cities

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is expected to call on the West to send more advanced heavy weapons systems when he addresses the Group of Seven (G7) summit on June 27 as Russia continues to bomb Ukrainian cities and cause casualties and material damage.

The Ukrainian military command said early on June 27 that a missile strike had hit the Odesa region in southern Ukraine, a day after Russia launched strikes against the capital, Kyiv, and other Ukrainian cities.

The command said the missile, which was fired from a Russian-type Tu-22 strategic bomber, caused six casualties including a child. It was not clear whether the authorities were reporting injuries or deaths.

“The strike in a residential area of a civilian settlement destroyed several residential and farm buildings over around 500 square meters,” the command said, adding that firefighters were still battling the flames.

On June 26, Ukraine reported an increase in Russian missile attacks across the country over the weekend, with a number of areas hit far behind the front line — from the western Ukrainian region of Lviv to Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv, and Kyiv.

Russian missile attacks on Kyiv and the central city of Cherkasy on June 26 killed at least two people and injured 11 others, including a 7-year-old girl pulled from the rubble, with more blasts reported later in the first major strikes against either city in weeks.

The latest strikes came as Russia took full control of the key city of Syevyerodonetsk in the eastern region of Luhansk after weeks of heavy fighting, which has turned the town into ruins, and is now targeting nearby Lysychansk.

Ukrainian officials who have pledged to retake lost cities responded with a fresh plea for more weapons to fight the Russian invasion as G7 leaders opened a two-day summit at which they are expected to announce further punishing sanctions on Russia.

Zelenskiy said in his daily video address on June 26 that delaying arms deliveries was “an invitation to Russia to strike again and again,” and he called for advanced air defense systems and new sanctions on Russia.

“Partners need to move faster if they are really partners, not observers,” Zelenskiy said.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko went to the scene in one of that city’s historic northern neighborhoods, known as the Shevchenko district, after at least two buildings were affected by early morning explosions blamed on up to four Russian missiles.

Klitschko said one person was killed and six were injured, including the 7-year-old, who was in stable condition after surgery. The condition of her mother, who was also hospitalized, was much more serious, Klitschko said on Telegram.

Russia said its strike on Kyiv had hit a weapons factory, dismissing as “fake” reports that it had struck a residential area.

The Artyom factory “was the target, as military infrastructure” the Russian Defense Ministry said. It claimed in a statement that damage to a nearby residential building had been caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile.

Klitschko called the attacks on Kyiv were an attempt by Russia to “intimidate Ukrainians” ahead of a NATO summit slated for Madrid on June 28-30.

Others suggested that these strikes and other bombardments — including near Ukraine’s border with Poland — might also be an effort to send a message to G7 leaders gathering near Munich to discuss pro-Ukraine measures on June 26.

Meanwhile, the United States plans to announce as soon as this week that it has purchased an advanced, medium-to-long range surface-to-air missile defense system for Ukraine, CNN and AP reported on June 27, citing sources familiar with the issue.

Ukrainian officials have asked for the missile defense system known as NASAMS that can hit targets more than 160 kilometers away, the sources said.

Washington last week announced an additional $450 million in military assistance for Ukraine, giving it four more multiple launch rocket systems and artillery ammunition for other systems.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration said it was providing an additional $1 billion military aid package to Ukraine that will include additional howitzers, ammunition, and coastal defense systems.

More and more analysts envision a protracted battle in the eastern part of Ukraine, with high human and equipment losses on both sides.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence bulletin on June 27 that, in the following weeks, Russia, which has reportedly suffered a high rate of casualties, is “highly likely” to rely increasingly on reservists.

However, British intelligence suggested that the Russian leadership “likely remains reluctant to order a general mobilization,” despite a permanent shortfall in the number of reservists who can be deployed in Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II had taken a heavy toll on Ukrainians and their defenders but spoke of eventually winning the war.

“We don’t have a sense of how long it will last, how many more blows, losses and efforts will be needed before we see victory is on the horizon,” Zelenskiy said.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, TASS, and AFP
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