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Leaders of the major Group of Seven (G7) economies have said they will maintain sanctions against Russia for as long as necessary and step up international economic and political pressure on President Vladimir Putin and his supporters in Belarus.

A statement on June 27, the second day of a G7 summit being held in Germany, said the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the The United States was “committed to maintaining and escalating” the sanctions and would continue to use them as needed “acting in unison at every step.”

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“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and support to Ukraine for as long as necessary,” the statement said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the pledges were needed to keep the pressure on Putin.

“Imagine if we allowed Putin to get away with violently acquiring huge chunks of another country, sovereign and independent territory,” Johnson told the BBC. “The lessons to be learned would be absolutely frightening. What I would like to say to people is that I think sometimes the price of freedom is worth paying.”

G7 leaders pledged to explore new ways to prevent Russia from participating in the global market and to crack down on the circumvention of existing sanctions, the statement said.

The countries pledged to take steps to further reduce their dependence on Russian energy and to extend sanctions to further restrict Russia’s access to services and technologies, especially those that support its energy industry. arming, the statement said. They also promised more sanctions against those responsible for war crimes.

The statement, released by Germany, the current holder of the rotating G7 presidency, also said the group was ready to provide more funds to help shore up the Ukrainian government’s finances. Budget support that has been pledged and provided so far in 2022 amounts to 29.5 billion, according to the statement.

The G7 leaders said they recognized the devastating level of infrastructure destruction in Ukraine caused by the war and were ready to support an international reconstruction plan.

Separately, the United States said it was finalizing a weapons package for Ukraine that would include long-range air defense systems – weapons that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy specifically requested when addressing to leaders via video link earlier in the day.

Zelenskiy has urged G7 leaders to do everything in their power to end Russia’s invasion of his country by the end of the year, as Ukraine’s military says it continues to repel an attempt at encirclement in the eastern town of Lysychansk.

Zelenskiy told leaders he wanted the war to end before winter set in and that battle conditions would make it harder for his troops as they fought back, several diplomats quoted as saying international media after the speech.

Zelenskiy also demanded air defense systems, more sanctions against Russia and security guarantees as he addressed the summit at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, diplomats said, adding that the Ukrainian leader stressed the need to continue to apply “heavy” punitive actions against Russia. and “not letting the pressure down” following multiple rounds of sanctions Western allies have imposed on Moscow.

Zelenskiy also asked for help exporting grain from Ukraine and reconstruction aid, they said.

On the battlefield, Ukraine endured another difficult day on June 27 that included a missile strike on a crowded shopping mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk. Ukrainian officials said they fear dozens of civilians were killed or injured in the attack.

Ukraine’s military command said earlier that it repelled Russian attacks west of Lysychansk and prevented an encirclement of the strategically important city in Donbass.

“Near Verkhnyokamyanka, the defense forces inflicted heavy losses on the enemy and forced him to retreat,” the Ukrainian General Staff reported. Verkhnyokamyanka is located on an important supply route only a few kilometers west of Lysychansk.

Serhiy Hayday, the head of the military administration of Luhansk, where Lysychansk is located, urged residents of the city to leave immediately as Russian forces level large swaths of the city, where an estimated 100,000 people lived before the invasion.

“The disastrous ‘Russian World’ is trying to erase our history from the world map by destroying cultural institutions and architectural monuments in the Luhansk region,” Hayday wrote on the Telegram messaging app, accusing Russian forces of have already destroyed more than 60 of these institutions. and monuments of the city.

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

The command said the missile, fired from a Russian Tu-22 type strategic bomber, killed six people, including a child. It was unclear whether authorities were reporting injuries or deaths.

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

Meanwhile, the United States plans to announce as early 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 close to the publish.

Ukrainian officials have requested the missile defense system known as NASAMS which can hit targets over 100 miles away, the sources said.

Last week, Washington announced an additional $450 million in military aid for Ukraine, giving it four more multiple rocket launcher systems and artillery munitions for other systems.

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

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

The UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence bulletin on June 27 that, in the coming weeks, Russia, which is believed to have suffered a high casualty rate, is “highly likely” to rely increasingly on reservists.

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

With reports from Reuters, AP, dpa, TASS and AFP

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