NATO is set to increase troop numbers by up to 300,000, as Russia’s missile strike on a Ukrainian shopping mall has been branded “one of the most brazen terrorist attacks in European history” by Ukraine’s president.
Vlodymyr Zelensky condemned the “calculated hit” against a shopping centre with 1,000 people inside, in the city of Kremenchuk on Monday, in which at least 18 people have so far been confirmed dead.
This comes as G7 leaders reacted to horrific scenes, with videos on social media showing the building engulfed in flames and firefighters tackling the inferno.
Meeting Germany this week, Nato allies confirmed they will massively increase the number of forces they have at high readiness to more than 300,000 troops.
G7 leaders said in a statement they “solemnly condemn the abominable attack” saying that “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime.”
In a stern message to the Kremlin, they said “Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account.”
“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian as well as military support for Ukraine, for as long as it takes. We will not rest until Russia ends its cruel and senseless war on Ukraine”, they said.
Boris Johnson, who is at the summit, branded it “callous, cowardly and ultimately counterproductive” while foreign secretary Liz truss called it a “shocking and barbaric attack on innocent civilians
President Zelensky added on Twitter, he “had a phone conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg . Coordinated positions on the eve of the NATO Summit in Madrid. Stressed the importance of a powerful missile defense system for Ukraine to prevent Russian terrorist attacks.”
In wake of the attack, the president condemned it saying there was “no danger to the Russian army. No strategic value. Only the attempt of people to live a normal life, which so angers the occupiers.
It comes after Russia has increased its attacks on Ukrainian cities in the past week, with the capital of Kyiv hit with repeated shelling over the weekend.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Vladimir Putin was intensifying his attacks to send a message to G7 leaders currently meeting in Germany.