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Ukraine news – live: Nato concerned by Putin’s ‘closer than ever’ ties with China

Jens Stoltenberg called on Beijing to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine

G7 leaders focus on helping Ukraine and punishing Russia

Nato is concerned about Vladimir Putin’s close ties with China, the group’s chief has said.

Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Nato does not view China as an adversary but is concerned about its relationship with Russia.

“We don't regard China as an adversary,” Mr Stoltenberg said at the Nato summit Tuesday. “But we are disappointed by the fact that China has not been able to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that China is spreading many of the false narratives about Nato, the West, and also that China and Russia are more close now than they have ever been before.”

It comes as the British army chief said the UK must be prepared to fight against Russia in Ukraine.

General Sir Patrick Sanders said Russia will likely be an even greater threat to European security after the war and the army must be ready to fight to “avert conflict.”

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Germany and Netherlands pledge six more howitzers to Ukraine

Germany and the Netherlands will deliver six additional howitzers to Ukraine, the defence ministers of both countries said on the sidelines of the Nato summit in Madrid.

Each country will provide three of the artillery weapons, Germany’s Christine Lambrecht and Kajsa Ollongren from the Netherlands told reporters, on top of 12 howitzers the countries have already sent to Ukraine.

“We show our resolve and our commitment to Ukraine, and not to give in to this Russian aggression,” Ms Ollongren said.

Commenting on Nato’s announcement to have more than 300,000 troops at high readiness from 2023 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ms Lambrecht said Germany would provide one division, some 15,000 troops, for these forces, including around 65 planes and 20 ships.

“Germany is ready to do its share, Nato must be strong and this needs to show in troop numbers as well,” she told reporters.

Liam James28 June 2022 19:30
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'Dozens missing’ after Russian strike on shopping centre

Ukraine authorities said 36 people were missing after a Russian missile strike on a shopping centre yesterday that killed at least 18.

Russia has been condemned for the strike by Ukraine’s western allies. Emmanuel Macron of France, who earlier in the war struck a concilliatory tone with Moscow, said the strike was a “war crime”.

Ukraine said Moscow had killed civilians deliberately in Kremenchuk. Russia said it had struck a nearby arms depot and falsely claimed that the shopping centre was empty.

Liam James28 June 2022 19:00
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UK defence secretary urges military spending boost

Britain’s defence secretary today called for an increase in defence spending to counter what he said was a growing threat of Russia attacking the UK and its European allies.

As Nato leaders gathered for a major summit in Madrid, Mr Wallace said the British military had for too long had to survive on “a diet of smoke and mirrors, hollowed-out formations and fantasy savings”.

He is reported to have asked Boris Johnson for a 20 per cent increase in defence spending. The prime minister said the government had already presided over the biggest increase in defence spending since the Cold War.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute land warfare conference in London, Mr Wallace said the £24 billion increase announced in the 2020 spending review had been a “strong start”.

However he said more action was needed to reverse the cuts made by successive governments after the end of the Cold War when the threat of conflict with Russia subsided.

“If governments historically responded every time the NHS has a winter crisis so must they when the threat to the very security which underpins our way of life increases,” he said.

Liam James28 June 2022 17:27
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Watch: CCTV from park 500m away from Russian missile strikes shows how intense blast was

CCTV from park 500m away from Russian missile strikes shows how intense blast was
Thomas Kingsley28 June 2022 16:20
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US seeking WNBA star Griner’s return from Russia, Sullivan says

The United States is actively trying to resolve WNBA star Brittney Griner's detention in Russia, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday, reiterating Washington's call for Moscow to release her.

“The United States government is actively engaged in trying to resolve this case and get Brittney home,” Mr Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One, declining to give any details.

Ms Griner has been held since February and faces up to 10 years in prison after Russian officials alleged her luggage contained multiple cannabis oil vape cartridges. A Russian court this week set Ms Griner's trial for Friday, the Associated Press and the Washington Post have reported.

Mr Sullivan, who is traveling with president Joe Biden to Spain ahead of a Nato meeting, said he and US secretary of state Antony Blinken have both spoken with Cherelle Griner, the wife of the two-time Olympic champion, in recent days.

“The Russian government should release her and allow her to be returned and reunited with her family and come home safe and sound,” he said, reiterating that the US government has made it clear that “Griner is wrongfully detained, unjustly detained.”

Thomas Kingsley28 June 2022 15:52
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Nato says does not regard China as adversary but worried over Russia ties

Nato does not see China as an adversary but it is concerned about Beijing's ever closer ties with Moscow since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Naot secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

“We don't regard China as an adversary,” Stoltenberg said on the sidelines of the Nato summit in Madrid, adding that China would soon be the biggest economy in the world and that Nato needed to engage with Beijing on issues like climate change.

“But we are disappointed by the fact that China has not been able to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that China is spreading many of the false narratives about Nato, the West, and also that China and Russia are more close now than they have ever been before,” he added

Thomas Kingsley28 June 2022 15:30
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‘It was hell,’ Kremenchuk survivors describe deadly mall attack

Moscow said the mall was disused and empty at the time of the strike, a claim plainly contradicted by wounded survivors such as Ludmyla Mykhailets, 43, who had been shopping there with her husband when the blast threw her into the air.

"I flew head first and splinters hit my body. The whole place was collapsing," she said at a nearby public hospital where she was being treated.

"It was hell," said her husband, Mykola, 45, blood seeping through a bandage around his head.

Exhausted fire fighters sat on a curb alongside another of the shopping centre's walls. Others lay on a grass embankment, smoking and scrolling on their phones.

"We pulled out five bodies. We didn’t find anybody alive," said a fire fighter who gave his name only as Oleksandr.

Outside the hospital, a small group of mall workers were filled with worry and grief, but also relief.

Hearing an air-raid siren, they had made their way to a nearby basement when the missiles struck, said Roman, 28, who asked to be identified by only one name.

He added that many others had stayed inside as the mall's management had three days ago allowed shops to remain open during air raid sirens.

Many Ukrainians have stopped reacting to the now regular warning sirens as strikes have been occurring less frequently outside of Ukraine's battle-torn east.

Back in the intensive-care ward, Yulia, a 21-year-old woman covered with deep cuts, said Monday was her first day working in one of the stores in the mall.

Thomas Kingsley28 June 2022 15:10
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Russia's Lavrov says Western arms supplies dragging out conflict

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday the more western countries send weapons to Ukraine the longer the conflict will last.

Russia has repeatedly blamed the west for prolonging the conflict, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, and has targeted missile strikes against arms depots storing weapons provided to Kyiv by the United States and Europe.

Speaking at a news conference during a visit to Turkmenistan, Lavrov said Russia did not target a shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Monday, where at least 18 people died following a Russian strike.

Echoing a statement issued by Russia's defence ministry earlier on Tuesday, Lavrov told reporters the mall was empty at the time a fire occurred as a result of Russia hitting an arms depot storing western weapons that was next to the shopping centre.

Thomas Kingsley28 June 2022 14:41
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Russia wants the surrender of Ukraine, Macron says

French president Emmanuel Macron told the G7 summit that Russia had one goal in mind - the surrender of Ukraine.

"Right now, it is clear, Russia's attack on Ukraine's territory has one objective - the surrender of Ukraine," said Mr Macron.

Speaking at the end of the G-7 summit in Germany, Macron appeared to address that concern, vowing that the seven industrialized democracies would support Ukraine and maintain sanctions against Russia "as long as necessary, and with the necessary intensity."

"Russia cannot and should not win," he said, adding that Monday's attack on the mall was "a new war crime."

Thomas Kingsley28 June 2022 14:10
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We could be next: Fearful Baltic states urge Nato for more troops ahead of Madrid summit

On the eve of the Nato summit, Baltic states are urging the military alliance to increase the number of troops earmarked to defend their corner of Europe against Russia to as many as 25,000 after secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg promised the “biggest overhaul of its collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War”.

Top of the agenda in the meeting in Madrid, which starts in earnest on Wednesday, is Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine which has sparked a geopolitical shift, even prompting once neutral countries Finland and Sweden to apply to join Nato.

Read more below from our international correspondent, Bel Trew:

We could be next: Fearful Baltic states urge Nato for more troops

‘We see Russia’s war in Ukraine as an existential threat to all of us not just Ukraine,’ says a senior figure in Estonia

Thomas Kingsley28 June 2022 13:50

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