Wives Of Russian Officers Urge Buryatia Leader To Return Their Husbands From Ukraine

Dozens of people were still missing after a Russian missile strike hit a crowded shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, killing at least 18 people, as fighting continued for the control of Lysychansk, the last Ukrainian holdout in the eastern Luhansk region.

Authorities said at least 36 people were still missing as rescuers continued their frantic search through the rubble after the June 27 strike that occurred as more than 1,000 people were inside the mall.

Regional Governor Dmytro Lunyn said the mall was “completely destroyed” by the missile strike, which Ukraine blamed on Russia, saying that air-to-surface missiles fired from Tu-22 long-range bombers had been used.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on June 28 that Russia has to be labelled a “state sponsor of terrorism” after the missile strike.

“Only total insane terrorists, who should have no place on Earth, can strike missiles at civilian objects… Russia must be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Zelenskiy said on his Telegram channel.

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Russia’s Defense Ministry on June 28 denied it targeted the shopping mall, saying the missiles were fired at a weapons depot in Kremenchuk and that exploding ammunition stocks sparked the deadly fire.

“As a result of a high-precision strike, Western-made weapons and ammunition concentrated in the storage area for further shipment to the Ukrainian grouping of troops in the Donbas were hit,” the ministry said in a statement.

It also falsely claimed the mall was “nonfunctioning.”

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations pledged on the last day of a summit in Germany to support Kyiv for “as long as it takes” as the war grinds on.

“We agree that (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin must not win this war, and we will continue to keep up and drive higher the economic and political costs for President Putin and his regime,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a closing news conference.

“For that, it is important to stand together — including in the long haul that we certainly still face.”

Russia also shelled Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, hitting apartment buildings and a primary school, the regional governor said. The shelling killed five people and wounded 22, including children, the governor said.

The head of the regional military administration, Serhiy Hayday, said that Ukrainian forces still controlled Lysychansk, but Russian rockets killed at least eight people and wounded more than 20 in an area where a crowd gathered to obtain water from a tank.

Hayday added that Ukrainian defenders will try to hold the line against the invaders in the east as they look to buy time until the arrival of Western weapons.

To the west of Lysychansk, the mayor of the city of Slovyansk said Russian forces fired cluster munitions, including one that hit a residential neighborhood. Authorities said the number of victims had yet to be confirmed.

Separately, Zelenskiy said he had told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg that his country needs missile defense systems to prevent Russian attacks.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence bulletin on June 28 that Ukrainian forces continued to consolidate their positions on higher ground in Lysychansk, after abandoning its twin city, Syevyerodonetsk, to the Russians.

The bulletin said Ukrainian forces continued to disrupt the Russians’ command and control with successful strikes deep behind Russian lines.

British intelligence assessed that Russian forces in the Donbas are increasingly “hollowed out” and their combat effectiveness has been degraded — a situation that is “probably unsustainable” in the long term.

In the aftermath of the Kremenchuk strike, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, accused Russia of being the “largest terrorist organization in the world” in a video on Telegram.

“Everyone in the world should know that buying or transporting Russian oil, maintaining ties with Russian banks, paying taxes and duties to the Russian state is giving money to terrorists,” he said.

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Russia has claimed repeatedly that it is not targeting civilians in the unprovoked war it launched on Ukraine just over four months ago.

Leaders of the G7 called the missile strike a war crime and vowed to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable.

Kremenchuk, an industrial city of just over 200,000, lies on the Dnipro River in the region of Poltava and is the site of Ukraine’s biggest oil refinery.

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