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Ukraine president praises troops in visit to southern front line

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(Last Updated On: June 19, 2022)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has paid another visit to troops on the front lines of Ukraine’s war against Russia, praising soldiers holding forward positions as brave and hard-working and vowing the country will prevail.

A video posted to Zelenskiy’s official Telegram account on Saturday showed the president in his trademark khaki t-shirt, handing out medals and posing for selfies with the troops in what appeared to be an underground shelter in the southern Mykolaiv region.

The president’s office did not say when he made his latest trip to see troops.

“Our brave men and women. Each one of them is working flat out,” Zelenskiy said in the video. “We will definitely hold out! We will definitely win!”

Zelenskiy has remained mostly in Kyiv since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. But in recent weeks he has made unannounced visits to the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where there had earlier been heavy fighting, and to two eastern cities close to where battles are being fought. 

There is also fighting on the eastern and southern edges of the Mykolaiv region in south Ukraine.

Zelenskiy’s office said the president also visited the regional capital Mykolaiv and inspected its destroyed administration building, where 37 people were killed in late March when a missile blasted through the building.

Russian forces reached the outskirts of Mykolaiv in early March but were driven back.

He also visited a hospital in Mykolaiv and awarded honours for bravery to Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych and Governor Vitaliy Kim for their work during the four months of Russia’s invasion, his office said in separate statements.

His office underscored the strategic importance of the territory, which borders the Russia-occupied Kherson region.

“Mykolaiv region is a bridgehead for liberation of the Kherson region, which is a goal for every one of us,” said Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak on Telegram.

His office later said Zelenskiy had also visited National Guard positions in Odesa region, where he thanked the troops for their service, saying “As long as you live, there is a strong Ukrainian wall that protects our country.”

Moscow says it is engaged in a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbour. Ukraine and its allies say Moscow has launched an unprovoked war of aggression, killing thousands of civilians and flattening cities.

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G-7 leaders set to commit to long haul in backing Ukraine

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

Leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers are set to commit themselves to the long haul in supporting Ukraine as they meet in the German Alps and confer by video link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The G-7 leaders will begin Monday’s session of their three-day summit with a focus on Ukraine. Later, they will be joined by the leaders of five democratic emerging economies — India, Indonesia, South Africa, Senegal and Argentina — for a discussion on climate change, energy and other issues, AP reported.

The war in Ukraine was already at the forefront of the G-7 leaders’ minds as they opened their summit at the secluded Schloss Elmau luxury hotel on Sunday — just as Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for the first time in weeks.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has been counting on, from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G-7 would splinter, but we haven’t and we’re not going to.” Britain’s Boris Johnson warned the leaders not to give in to “fatigue.”

On Monday, they have the opportunity to demonstrate that unity to Zelenskyy and reaffirm their commitment to supporting Kyiv financially and otherwise, AP reported.

Biden hopes to use his trip to Europe to proclaim the unity of the coalition pressing to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as much as he is urging allies to do even more — seeking to counter doubts about its endurance as the war grinds into its fifth month.

The summit’s host, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said last week that he wants to discuss the outlines of a “Marshall plan for Ukraine” with his G-7 counterparts, referring to the U.S.-sponsored plan that helped revive European economies after World War II.

With the war still in progress and destruction mounting by the day, it’s unlikely to be a detailed plan at this stage. Scholz has said that “rebuilding Ukraine will be a task for generations.”

The G-7 already is committed to help finance Ukraine’s immediate needs. Finance ministers from the group last month agreed to provide $19.8 billion in economic aid to help Kyiv keep basic services functioning and prevent tight finances from hindering its defense against Russian forces, AP reported.

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G7 nations announce Russia gold ban as summit starts under shadow of war

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Members of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Sunday announced a ban on imports of Russian gold as the G7 summit in the Bavarian Alps kicked off under the shadow of the war in Ukraine and consequences ranging from energy shortages to a food crisis.

The move by Britain, the United States, Japan and Canada is part of efforts to tighten the sanctions squeeze on Moscow and cut off its means of financing the invasion of Ukraine more than four months into a conflict Russian President Vladimir Putin calls a special military operation, Reuters reported.

“The measures we have announced today will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding. The UK and our allies are doing just that.”

A senior U.S. administration representative said the G7 would make an official announcement on the gold import ban on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

“This is a key export, a key source of revenue for Russia in terms of their ability to transact with the global financial system,” the U.S. official said.

Russian gold exports were worth $15.45 billion last year and wealthy Russians have been buying bullion to reduce the financial impact of Western sanctions, the British government said.

As well as the gold import ban, G7 leaders were also having “really constructive” talks on a possible price cap on Russian oil imports, a German government source said.

The three-day summit takes place against an even darker backdrop than last year, when British, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Japanese and U.S. leaders met for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Soaring global energy and food prices are hitting economic growth in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, with the United Nations warning of an “unprecedented global hunger crisis”.

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Two killed, 14 wounded in Norway nightclub shooting

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Two people were killed and 14 injured on Saturday in a shooting at a nightclub and in nearby streets Norway’s capital Oslo, according to reports.

A suspect believed to be the sole perpetrator was arrested, police said.

The crime scene extended from the London Pub via a neighbouring club and onwards to a nearby street where the suspect was apprehended a few minutes after the shooting began in the early hours of Saturday, police spokesman Tore Barstad told newspaper Aftenposten.

The London Pub is a popular gay bar and nightclub in the centre of Oslo.

“I saw a man arrive with a bag, he picked up a gun and started to shoot,” journalist Olav Roenneberg of public broadcaster NRK reported.

The motive behind the attack was not immediately clear.

Oslo is due to hold its annual Pride parade later on Saturday, just months after Norway marked 50 years since the abolition of a law that criminalised gay sex.

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