Sat, 13 Aug 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of trying to "destabilise international order" by blocking food and energy flows. He also denounced a missile strike on a crowded mall in central Ukraine, blamed on Russia, as an "abomination". His comments came as G7 leaders wrapped up a two-day meeting in Germany.

Leaders of the world's wealthiest nations struck a united stance on Tuesday, promising "to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes," as Russia's invasion entered its fifth month.

The final statement Tuesday from the Group of Seven summit in Germany underlined their intent to impose "severe and immediate economic costs" on Russia, maintaining sanctions on Moscow "for as long as necessary, acting in unison at every stage".

Macron said he did not see the war in Ukraine coming to an end in the next few weeks or even months, but that he hoped it would be over by year-end.

"Russia cannot and must not win this war," he said, noting the West would continue to make Russian President Vladimir Putin pay a high price for his invasion of Ukraine through sanctions, arms deliveries to Kyiv and possibly also by capping Russian oil prices.

The G7 also vowed that Putin and those responsible would be held to account for an attack on a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk, which killed at least 18 people on Monday.

'Brazen terrorist act'

"Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime," the G7 leaders said in a statement condemning the "abominable attack," which targeted during its busiest hours.

"We share the pain of the victims' families, and the anger against such a despicable act. The Russian people must know the truth," Macron wrote on Twitter. The message was published in French, English and Russian.

Ukraine accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians, with President Volodymyr Zelensky calling it "one of the most brazen terrorist acts in European history" in his evening broadcast posted on Telegram.

"A peaceful town, an ordinary shopping centre - women, children ordinary civilians inside," said Zelensky, who earlier shared a video of the mall engulfed in flames with dozens of rescuers and a fire truck outside.

Russia's defence ministry on Tuesday said it fired missiles at a weapons depot in Kremenchuk, with the subsequent explosion of ammunition triggering a fire in the nearby shopping mall, which they described as "non-functioning".

Diplomats said Ukraine requested a Tuesday meeting on the strikes at the UN Security Council, where Russia wields veto power but has not been able to prevent critical discussion of the invasion.

Tighten economic screws

Leaders earlier agreed on a ban on imports of Russian gold and to step up aid to countries hit with food shortages by the blockage on Ukraine grain shipments through the Black Sea.

The proposed price cap on Russian oil would in theory work by barring service providers such as shippers or insurers from dealing with oil priced above a fixed level. That could work because the service providers are mostly located in the European Union or the UK and thus within reach of sanctions.

To be effective, however, it would have to involve as many consuming countries as possible, particularly India, where refiners have been snapping up the cheap Russian oil shunned by Western traders.

To help bring down surging prices, France urged oil-producing nations to raise output in an "exceptional manner" and Macron backed a return to the market of crude from Iran and Venezuela, both under US sanctions.

Macron to seek bigger military budget in 'war economy'

Meanwhile, France's defence minister Sebastien Lecornu says a significant number of armoured troop carriers will be sent to Ukraine in the coming days.

Speaking to the daily Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui en France, he also confirmed that six extra Caesar cannons would be sent on top of the 12 already being used by Ukraine against Russian forces.

(with newswires)

Originally published on RFI

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