Zelensky accuses Russia of striking busy shopping mall
From CNN's Seb Shukla
More than 1,000 people were inside a mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk when a Russian missile was fired at the building, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
"The number of victims is impossible to imagine," he added.
On Telegram, alongside a video, Zelensky said the site had “no danger to the Russian army. No strategic value. Only the attempt of people to live a normal life.”
The mall remained on fire and emergency services were on the scene, he said.
9:47 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022
Mariupol residents "forced to hunt pigeons" to eat, mayor says
From CNN's Yulia Kesavia
Residents in the occupied city of Mariupol are being “forced to hunt pigeons” in order to feed themselves, Vadym Boichenko, the exiled mayor of Mariupol, said in a statement on Monday.
Boichenko said residents are “using improvised traps” to catch the pigeons and that Russian forces are making “a mockery of people who used to live their life to the fullest before the war — not knowing what hunger or lack of drinking water was."
"These terrible things are happening in the 21st century, in the heart of Europe, in front of the whole world," he added.
Boichenko's statement ended with some advice about the dangers of people eating pigeons from Oleksandr Lazarenko, head of Primary Health Care Center No. 3 in Mariupol who said, “Pigeons are a breeding ground for many viral, bacterial and fungal diseases. In this regard, the meat can be infected. It can cause histoplasmosis, encephalitis, ornithosis, salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis and other dangerous diseases. Such diseases are especially dangerous for children and the elderly. In the absence of proper medical care, it can even lead to death.”
9:13 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022
France says countries invited to G7 need to pick sides over war in Ukraine
From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris
Some countries invited to participate in the G7 summit in Germany “will have to choose sides” as the war in Ukraine continues to rage on, an Élysée source told journalists on Monday.
“It is the stability of the international order that is at stake,” the Élysée source said.
Germany, host country of the G7 summit, has invited Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa to join the summit. Some of the invitees, such as India, have yet to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Sessions on Monday afternoon are open to invited countries.
French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to meet with the presidents of Indonesia and South Africa separately this afternoon.
9:12 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022
"Chaotic" Ukrainian retreat underway in Lysychansk, Russian defense ministry claims
From CNN's Tim Lister
The Ukrainian military command is "trying to stop the chaotic escape of Ukrainian servicemen near Lysychansk amid the success of Russian army," the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Russian and allied forces of the Luhansk People's militia have been closing in on Lysychansk since the fall of neighboring Severodonetsk.
In a statement on its Telegram channel, the defense ministry claimed that a unit of the Ukrainian Azov regiment had been sent to "hold the personnel" of another Ukrainian unit at the settlement of Vovchoyarivka, near Lysychansk, where there has been heavy fighting.
The Defense Ministry also claimed that it had eliminated two units of international "mercenaries" near Lysychansk, including a group of Georgian fighters. CNN has not independently verified the claim.
The commander of one Ukrainian unit in Lysychansk had lost control over the majority of his troops, the defense ministry added without offering evidence for the claim.
Meanwhile, all four missiles fired at a district of Kyiv on Sunday reached their target, which it described as "the workshops of the Artyom missile corporation" in the Shevchenkivskyi district, the defense ministry also said. "This enterprise produced ordnance for Ukrainian multiple rocket-launching systems (MRLS)."
At least one missile, or wreckage from it, hit an apartment building, leaving one person dead and several injured, according to a CNN team at the site and Ukrainian officials.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the damage to the residential building was caused by one Ukrainian system destroying an anti-air missile fired by another.
"Due to lack of interoperability between the launching ramps of the air defense systems and electronic facilities deployed in residential areas, 2 S-300 air defense missiles have been intercepted by Ukrainian Buk systems. One of the intercepted air defense missiles has presumably fallen down to a residential building," the defense ministry claimed.
There is no independent evidence for such a scenario.
9:12 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022
NATO will enhance its battle groups in the eastern part of the alliance
From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London
NATO will enhance its battle groups in the eastern part of the alliance up to brigade levels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday.
"We will increase the number of high readiness forces to well over 300,000," he said at a news conference in Brussels.
This includes "more pre-positioned equipment and stockpiles of military supplies; more forward-deployed capabilities, like air defense; strengthened command and control, and upgraded defense plans with forces pre-assigned to defend specific allies," Stoltenberg added.
The NATO Response Force comprises around 40,000 troops, according to the NATO website.
"These troops will exercise together with home defense forces. And they will become familiar with local terrain, facilities, and our new pre-positioned stocks so that they can respond smoothly and swiftly to any emergency," Stoltenberg went on to say, stressing that "this constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defense since the Cold War."
These comments come ahead of the NATO summit that will be held in Madrid this week.
The summit will be "transformative," with many important decisions, including on a new "strategic concept for a new security reality," Stoltenberg said Monday, adding that this will include a discussion on China "for the first time."
"Our new concept will guide us in an era of strategic competition. I expect it will make clear that allies consider Russia as the most significant and direct threat to our security," Stoltenberg said. "It will address China for the first time. And the challenges that Beijing poses to our security, interests, and values."
US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will likely speak in the coming weeks, the White House said. While there is no timeframe, the conversation will not happen immediately after the G7 meet, where China was a primary topic of discussion, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in Germany.
8:27 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022
Kremlin says there are "no grounds" to reports of default in Russia
From CNN’s Anna Chernova
The Kremlin has rejected claims of a Russian default, commenting on reports of Moscow reneging on its foreign debt due to missed payments on two foreign-currency bonds.
"Allegations of default are incorrect because the necessary currency payment was made as early as back in May," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.
Russian reserves have been frozen unduly and the fact that the money was not delivered to the recipients "is not our problem," Peskov added, referring to funds frozen by Euroclear, a Belgium-based financial services company specializing in the settlement of securities transaction.
"So there are no grounds to call it a default," Peskov said.
Attempts to use the frozen reserves in any way would be "illegal" and regarded by Russia as an "outright theft," he added.
Some background: Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, international banks have warned the country is barreling toward a default on its foreign debt payments, threatening to plunge its economy deeper into crisis.
Defaults are murky territory in global economics, and Russia's situation is complicated by its growing isolation under the unprecedented sanctions imposed on it by Western powers.
But the ruble has rebounded and it now worth more than before the invasion. Even McDonald's has reopened in Russia, under new branding and ownership.
However, earlier this month US Treasury Department officials told CNN they are confident that sanctions are working and that, beneath the surface, a much more dire story is unfolding within Russia's economy, where they contend real and lasting damage is being inflicted.
CNN's Allison Morrow and Phil Mattingly contributed reporting to this post.
8:20 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022
G7 leaders "headed in the right direction" as they aim to "starve" Russia of oil money, US officials say
Leaders of the G7 are currently negotiating on capping the price of Russian oil, the latest step toward punishing Moscow while attempting to mitigate the economic effects of the war in Ukraine.
How, when and by how much the price of Russian oil will be capped remains to be seen. Officials said the precise mechanism for accomplishing the cap is still being worked out at the summit.
Sullivan stressed that while there was not a deal yet, the countries are “arriving at a point we believe where there is convergence around really trying to pursue this.”
While he declined to provide a timeframe for this agreement, he said it could be done “relatively quickly.”
In an earlier briefing on the matter, a senior administration official said the goal of the cap would be to “starve Russia” and Putin of his main source of cash and “force down the price of Russian oil to help blunt the impact of Putin’s war at the pump.”
As oil prices have skyrocketed, Russia's oil revenues are actually up, despite global import bans. Leaders want to use their collective leverage to cut the revenue Russia receives from the countries still purchasing its oil.
8:44 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022
Biden and Xi likely to speak in coming weeks, White House says
From CNN's Kevin Liptak
US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will likely speak in the coming weeks, the White House says.
"We do expect that the President and President Xi will have the opportunity to engage over the course of the next few weeks. I can't put a particular timeframe on it. It's not going to be immediately after the G7," US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in Germany.
He said China had been a primary topic of discussion at this week's summit.
He said that "there is increasing convergence at the G7 and NATO around the challenge poses" but that "competition does not mean confrontation."
"We're not looking to divide the world into rival blocks and make every country choose" he said. "We want to stand for a set of principles that are fair to everybody. And we want to ensure that we're working with like-minded partners to hold China accountable to adhere to those rules."
9:16 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022
Zelensky focused on regaining momentum in months — not years, US national security adviser says
From CNN's Kevin Liptak
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was focused on regaining momentum in Ukraine over the coming months — and not years — when he spoke to leaders of the G7 on Monday, according to a senior adviser to US President Joe Biden.
"Zelensky was very much focused on trying to ensure that Ukraine is in as advantageous a position on the battlefield as possible in the next months as opposed to the next years, because he believes that a grinding conflict is not in the interest of the Ukrainian people," US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said after the meeting.
Earlier, a source familiar with the matter told CNN that Zelensky told leaders he wanted the war to be over the end of the year, before winter sets in.
Sullivan declined to characterize Zelensky's message. But he said the Ukrainian president was clear that he wants support in the near-and-medium term, not in the distant future.
"He would like to see his military, and those in the West who are supporting his military, make maximum use of the next few months to put the Ukrainians in as good a position as they can possibly be in with respect to the situation on the ground in both the east and the south," Sullivan said.
"That's consistent with the American approach of trying to flow in the necessary material and equipment to put the Ukrainians in an advantageous position on the battlefield. But that's really what he was focused on," he said.
Zelensky's timeframe was based on battlefield considerations but also the plight of his people, he said.
"I think another really important consideration is just the sense of suffering of the Ukrainian people with each day and week that this goes on," Sullivan said. "And so, he's got an urgency to try to show his people that Ukraine is first of all, holding fast against the Russian onslaught, and secondly, making some progress in areas where they feel that they can, in fact push back against the Russians."