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NATO strikes deal with Turkey to admit Sweden and Finland; Key G-7 countries ban Russian gold imports

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates. 

Turkey agrees to support Finland and Sweden NATO membership; Russians target school in Kharkiv
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Turkey agrees to support Finland and Sweden NATO membership; Russians target school in Kharkiv

As NATO members gathered in Spain on Tuesday, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance reached a deal with Turkey to accept membership bids from Sweden and Finland.

The two nations moved to join NATO after Russia's invasion of Ukraine raised fears about Russian aggression elsewhere.

The summit is arguably the most important meeting of the alliance in recent months, with member countries and non-NATO allies, such as Australia and South Korea, set to discuss the war in Ukraine and how to confront an increasingly hostile Russia.

On Monday, Stoltenberg said the Western military organization would increase the number of troops within its rapid response force — which comprises land, air, sea and special forces units that are capable of being deployed quickly — to 300,000 from the current level of around 40,000 personnel.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the leaders of the G-7 nations on Monday, pressing them for more heavy weaponry and help to end the war before winter sets in.

Ukraine's emergency services said the Russian missile strikes on a Ukrainian shopping mall yesterday killed at least 18 people and wounded 59 others.

NATO strikes a deal with Turkey to allow Sweden and Finland to join

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson give a news conference after their meeting, in Harpsund, Sweden, June 13, 2022.
Henrik Montgomery | Tt News Agency | Via Reuters

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the world's most powerful military alliance reached a deal to admit Sweden and Finland after resolving the concerns of holdout Turkey.

The push to add Sweden and Finland to the world's most powerful military alliance comes as Russia's assault on Ukraine amplifies fears of other countries in the region. Moscow, long wary of NATO expansion, has opposed the two nations' plans to join the alliance.

Both Finland and Sweden already meet many of the requirements to be NATO members. Some of the requirements include having a functioning democratic political system, a willingness to provide economic transparency and the ability to make military contributions to NATO missions.

However, all 30 NATO members must approve a country's bid for it to be accepted into the alliance.

— Amanda Macias

Yacht of wealthiest Russian oligarch docked in haven Dubai

The Nirvana, a sleek 88-meter-long superyacht worth about $300 million, owned by Vladimir Potanin, head of the world's largest refined nickel and palladium producer in Russia, is docked at Port Rashid terminal in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, June 28, 2022.
Kamran Jebreili | AP

The man considered to be the wealthiest oligarch in Russia, who has been photographed playing ice hockey with President Vladimir Putin, joins a growing list of those transferring — or, sailing — their prized assets to Dubai as the West tightens its massive sanctions program on Russia's economy.

Vladimir Potanin, head of the world's largest refined nickel and palladium producer, may not be sanctioned by the United States or Europe yet; such sanctions could roil metal markets and potentially disrupt supply chains, experts say. As the biggest shareholder in mining company Nornickel, Potanin had a personal fortune of $30.6 billion before the war on Ukraine, according to Forbes.

But like an increasing number of blacklisted Russian oligarchs, he has apparently taken the precaution of moving his $300 million superyacht to the safe haven of Dubai, in the U.S.-allied United Arab Emirates.

It is called the Nirvana, and the sleek 88-meter-long (289-foot-long) superyacht, equipped with a glass elevator, gym, hot tub, 3D cinema and two terrariums of exotic reptiles, stands out even in a port full of flashy, floating mansions.

The giant Dutch-built vessel with a navy blue hull was docked on Tuesday flying the flag of the Cayman Islands when Associated Press journalists observed the ship at Dubai's Port Rashid — in the eyeshot of sanctioned Russian parliamentarian Andrei Skoch's $156 million Madame Gu.

— Associated Press

NATO's Stoltenberg will address Turkey's concerns with Finland and Sweden bids, U.S. national security adviser says

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has already previewed new moves by the alliance, announcing on Monday that it would increase its rapid response force and will bolster its battlegroups in eastern Europe.
Yves Herman | Reuters

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will lead efforts to address Turkey's concerns over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.

"The Secretary-General of NATO has taken the lead, appropriately and correctly, in working with Finland and Sweden on the one hand and Turkey on the other hand to find a way forward that addresses Turkey's concerns and ultimately delivers Finland and Sweden's entry into the alliance," Sullivan told reporters traveling on Air Force One.

"We believe that is how it should be and how it will remain. The United States is not going to supplant the secretary-general or take on a brokering role in this," Sullivan said.

— Amanda Macias

Satellite image shows destruction of shopping mall in Ukraine

A satellite image taken by Planet Labs Inc. on June 28, showing destruction of the shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.
Planet Labs Inc.

A satellite image by Planet Labs shows the destruction of a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging platform that more than 1,000 people were inside at the time of the Russian rocket attack, according to an NBC News report.

"This is not an off-target missile strike, this is a calculated Russian strike — exactly at this shopping mall," Zelenskyy said in his evening address.

Rescuers work at a site of a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine June 28, 2022.
Anna Voitenko | Reuters

G-7 leaders condemned the Russian missile strike and pledged to hold "Russian President Putin and those responsible" to account.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it targets civilians.

— Amanda Macias

German foreign minister: We cannot accept Putin's breach of everything we stand for

German foreign minister: We cannot accept Putin's breach of everything we stand for
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German foreign minister: We cannot accept Putin's breach of everything we stand for

Annalena Baerbock, Germany's foreign minister, told CNBC's Hadley Gamble at the NATO summit in Madrid that her country is increasing its deliveries of hard weapons to Ukraine.

She also urged the international community to remain united against Russian President Vladimir Putin's breach of "everything we stand for."

—Matt Clinch and Anita Riotta

We must support Ukraine as long as it takes, says NATO chief

Must support Ukraine as long as it takes, urges NATO secretary-general
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Must support Ukraine as long as it takes, urges NATO secretary-general

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tells CNBC's Hadley Gamble in Madrid how the Russian invasion has accelerated the green transition.

He also says that NATO must bear the price of supporting Ukraine amid the onslaught, arguing that the alternative is much worse.

—Matt Clinch

First lady Jill Biden meets Ukrainian refugees and relief organizations in Madrid

U.S. first lady Jill Biden embraces a girl next to Spain's Queen Letizia as they speak with members of a family from Ukraine during their visit to a reception centre for Ukrainian refugees in Pozuelo de Alarcon, on the sidelines of NATO summit, near Madrid, Spain, June 28, 2022.
Oscar del Pozo | Pool | Reuters

First lady Jill Biden and Queen Letizia Of Spain met with Ukrainian refugees and various relief organizations while on an official trip to Madrid.

"You do a wonderful job," Biden said to a representative from the Red Cross. "You're always there, Red Cross, thank you," she added.

Biden was also introduced to Spanish celebrity chef and restaurateur Jose Andres during the visit.

Andres, a two-star Michelin chef, brought a mobile World Central Kitchen food truck to the site and explained how his humanitarian organization has helped address the mounting food crisis triggered by Russia's war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

U.S., key allies ban Russian gold imports

Employees process ingots of 99.99 percent pure gold at the Krastsvetmet non-ferrous metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia March 10, 2022.
Alexander Manzyuk | Reuters

The Treasury Department announced that the U.S. and a handful of key economic allies will prohibit imports of Russian gold, Moscow's largest export outside of the energy sector.

The expanded sanctions represent the latest effort by the U.S. and its Group of Seven partners to target Russian President Vladimir Putin and alienate the country's economy from international commerce and payments systems.

The United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan are joining in the U.S. effort to ban gold imports from Russia.

— Thomas Franck

Europe needs 'contingency plans' in case Russia cuts gas supplies altogether

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the EU's stocks of gas are increasing as the bloc looks to other suppliers aside from Russia, but added that the region must have contingency plans in case Russia cuts its supplies.

"There will have to be — particularly if Russia decides to cut supply altogether — contingency plans but [gas] stocks are increasing nicely. We've reached a good level of stocks ... and if we complete the stocks we are able to manage this transition to the time when we will be completely independent from Russian gas," he told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick at a press conference.

Draghi: Europe needs 'contingency plans' in case Russia cuts gas supplies altogether
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Draghi: Europe needs 'contingency plans' in case Russia cuts gas supplies altogether

Draghi said Europe had implemented measures to tackle the economic fallout of the conflict including diversifying its suppliers and investing in renewable forms of energy.

"We went all over [for other suppliers], and we've replaced a good deal of the Russia gas," he said, noting that 40% of the EU's gas supplies came from Russia last year, whereas now it was down to 25%.

A recession in Europe on account of the war in Ukraine is not an immediate forecast, Draghi also noted, saying: "For the time being, the economy of the euro area is slowing down but we don't foresee a recession now. The Italian economy is actually going better than we expected a couple of months ago."

— Holly Ellyatt

France's Macron says he backs the idea of capping Russian oil prices

French President Emmanuel Macron says he's in favor of a price cap on Russian oil as he speaks to the media on the third and final day of the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau on June 28, 2022 near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

France's President Emmanuel Macron told CNBC that he is in favor of capping Russian oil prices and that technical work will begin on finding a mechanism to do so.

"This mechanism does not exist as such so this is only the beginning of the discussion [but] I'm in favor of this. I think it's a very good idea," he told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick at a press conference following the conclusion of the Group of Seven's meeting in Germany.

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France's Macron says he backs Russian oil price cap

Oil prices have surged since the conflict in Ukraine began in February with Ukraine's allies — namely those in Europe — looking to reduce their purchases of Russian oil, and gas, of which Russia is a major supplier. While European countries have pledged to dramatically reduce their own consumption of Russian energy, Moscow has found willing buyers of its oil elsewhere, in India and China, for example.

"The oil price surge helps finance the war in Ukraine so the idea is very good but the problem is that ... if you want the system to work we need to expand an alliance of buyers so all the buyers should commit [to such a mechanism] together," Macron said.

"The different buyers need to agree and decide upon a cap and implement it ... Now the technical work is going to start based on the political discussion. At the end of the G-7 can we just push a button and say 'now there is a cap' — no — because the technical mechanism doesn't exist as such."

He said experts would now work on what he called the "U.S. initiative" to find a coalition of buyers that would agree to the cap. He said France and Italy were in favor of a similar mechanism when it comes to Russian gas.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine needs a 'Marshall plan,' Germany says

"We need a Marshall plan for Ukraine," Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz said as he spoke to the media on the third day of the three-day G7 summit at Schloss Elmau on June 28, 2022 near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Thomas Lohnes | Getty Images News | Getty Images

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says the West must create a "Marshall plan" for Ukraine.

He stressed that there must be a plan for the long-term reconstruction of the country after the war, similar to the U.S. program of aid that was created for Europe after the destruction brought about by World War II.

Speaking at the conclusion of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in the Bavarian Alps on Tuesday, Scholz said the group — representing the world's leading industrialized nations — stood together in its support for Ukraine and that they "agree that [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin must not win this war."

"We need a Marshall plan for Ukraine. This needs to be planned and developed well," Scholz told reporters, saying the whole of the EU should be involved in discussions around such a plan, not just the G-7.

He also said famine caused by the conflict was also another pressing problem facing the world, with 345 million people thought not to have enough to eat due to climate change, the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine, which is preventing the export of vital produce such as wheat.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian armed forces are being 'hollowed out,' UK says

The U.K.'s Ministry of Defence said that Russia's forces are becoming "hollowed out" in the Luhansk region amid a continuing, intense period of fighting in the area which is a part of the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

In the latest intelligence update from the ministry on Tuesday, it noted that Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their positions on higher ground in the city of Lyschansk, after pulling back from its neighboring city of Severodonetsk which Russian forces fully captured at the weekend.

Severodonetsk has been a prime target in the Kremlin's pursuit to seize full control of Luhansk.
Aris Messinis | Afp | Getty Images

Despite this tactical retreat, the U.K. noted that Ukrainian forces "continue to disrupt Russian command and control with successful strikes deep behind Russian lines."

The ministry noted that Russia had launched what it described as "unusually intense waves of strikes across Ukraine using long-range missiles" between June 24-26 and that these weapons highly likely included the Soviet-era AS-4 KITCHEN and more modern AS-23a KODIAK missiles, fired from both Belarusian and Russian airspace.

"These weapons were designed to take on targets of strategic importance, but Russia continues to expend them in large numbers for tactical advantage," it noted.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia spreads false and unfounded claims over shopping mall attack

Russian officials have reacted to international condemnation over a missile strike on a shopping mall on Monday by posting false and unfounded claims about the attack.

Russia's defense ministry issued a military update in which it claimed that they were targeting hangars in Kremenchuk holding weapons from European countries and the U.S. — rather than the shopping mall that was struck by Russian missiles on Monday, killing at least 18 people and injuring many others.

It said that, "as a result of the precision strike, Western-made weapons and ammunition being concentrated in the warehouse area for further dispatch to the Ukrainian group of troops in the Donbas were hit."

The ministry then claimed that "the detonation of stored ammunition for Western weapons caused a fire in a non-functioning shopping center located next to the territory of the plant." The update comes after another Russian official claimed, presenting no evidence, that the shopping mall attack was a "Ukrainian provocation."

Ukraine and Western military officials have said that there is no military target near the shopping mall in Kremenchuk. The shopping mall was believed to have around 1,000 people inside at the time of the strike yesterday.

The attack has been widely condemned by Western leaders with the G-7 calling it a war crime.

It's not the first time that Russia has responded to widespread criticism of its multiple assaults on civilians and civilian infrastructure by attempting to deny responsibility and to spread falsehoods and disinformation about the attack.

It has tried to claim that an attack on a maternity hospital early on in the war was staged by Ukraine despite abundant evidence to the contrary. It also tried to claim that a massacre of civilians in Bucha in Kyiv was staged by Ukraine and that footage and photographs of dead bodies were fake and created by Western media, again despite widespread evidence to the contrary.

Human rights groups and investigators are probing allegations of war crimes and have been gathering evidence of these during the conflict.

Holly Ellyatt

Search and rescue operation continues at shopping mall

Rescue workers at the shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, on June 27, 2022. G-7 leaders denounced the strike as a war crime, while Russia has denied that it targeted a civilian building on purpose.
State Emergency Service Of Ukraine | via Reuters

The search and rescue operation continues at the shopping mall at Kremenchuk that was hit by Russian shelling on Monday. So far, 18 people are known to have died in the strike and 59 are injured, with 28 of them in intensive care.

Damaged building structures are being dismantled with the help of heavy engineering equipment and small mechanization, Ukrainian officials said on Telegram today.

G-7 leaders denounced the strike as a war crime, while Russia has denied that it targeted a civilian building on purpose.

Russia's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, wrote on Twitter that the attack was a "Ukrainian provocation." He cited no evidence for his claim.

"Exactly what Kiev regime needs to keep focus of attention on Ukraine before (the) NATO Summit," he said, referring to the alliance's meeting in Madrid that begins Tuesday.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmitryo Kuleba said on Twitter today that it was "sickening to see Russian reactions to the Kremenchuk shopping mall strike. Ordinary Russians cheer on social media. Russian diplomats and officials spread insane conspiracy theories, denying that the strike even happened."

— Holly Ellyatt

Death toll from shopping mall strike rises to 18

Rescue workers at a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, on June 27, 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the strike on the mall had "no strategic value."
State Emergency Service Of Ukraine | via Reuters

The death toll from the Russian missile strike on the Amstor shopping mall in Kremenchuk on Monday has risen to 18, according to a Ukrainian official.

"18 killed… Sincere condolences to relatives and friends. Rescuers continue to work," the head of the Poltava Regional Military Administration, Dmytro Lunin, posted on Telegram on Tuesday.

Russian forces launched what Ukraine believes were Kh-22 missiles on a shopping mall in the town of Kremenchuk, a town along the Dnipro river which flows through the center of Ukraine. About 1,000 civilians were in the mall.

Earlier, it was reported about 15 people had been killed in the attack. At least 59 people were injured, 25 of whom were hospitalized.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging platform that the strike on the mall in Kremenchuk had "no strategic value" and was not a site affiliated with Ukrainian armed forces.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it targets civilians.

G-7 leaders condemned the attack on Monday, issuing a joint statement in which they said: "We stand united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims of this brutal attack. Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime."

"Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account," the statement added.

NATO alliance set to meet in Spain as Russia's aggression increases

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has already previewed new moves by the alliance, announcing on Monday that it would increase its rapid response force and will bolster its battlegroups in eastern Europe.
Yves Herman | Reuters

The NATO military alliance is all set to meet in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday, with the war in Ukraine at the top of the agenda.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has already previewed new moves by the alliance, announcing on Monday that it would increase its rapid response force and will bolster its battlegroups in eastern Europe.

"At the summit we will strengthen our forward defences. We will enhance our battlegroups in the eastern part of the alliance up to brigade levels. We will transform the NATO response force and increase the number of high-readiness forces to well over 300,000," Stoltenberg told a press conference.

Stoltenberg said the moves reflect that "allies consider Russia as the most significant and direct threat to our security." The summit comes as Russia makes slow but significant headway in eastern Ukraine, seizing more of the Donbas as fierce fighting in the region continues.

In addition, Russian forces have attacked several major cities in recent days, including the capital Kyiv. An attack on a shopping mall yesterday killed at least 15 people and wounded 59 others. The attack was condemned by G-7 leaders meeting in Germany.

Rescue workers at a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, in Kremenchuk, in Ukraine's Poltava region, on June 27, 2022.
State Emergency Service Of Ukraine | via Reuters

NATO has other issues to deal with, the largest of which perhaps being Turkey's ongoing opposition to Finland's and Sweden's application to join the group. Stoltenberg said Monday that "the security concerns of all allies must be taken into account as part of the NATO accession process. Turkiye's concerns are legitimate and must be addressed."

— Holly Ellyatt

At least 15 people killed by Russian missile strike on Ukrainian shopping mall

Ukrainian firefighters trying to put out a fire at a shopping mall after a Russian attack in Ukraine on June 27, 2022. "This is not an off-target missile strike, this is a calculated Russian strike — exactly at this shopping mall," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Ukrainian State Emergency Service / Handout | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian missile strikes on a Ukrainian shopping mall killed at least 15 people and wounded 59 others, Ukraine's emergency services said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier said on the Telegram messaging platform that more than 1,000 people were inside at the time of the rocket attack, NBC News reported.

"This is not an off-target missile strike, this is a calculated Russian strike — exactly at this shopping mall," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

— Chelsea Ong

G-7 leaders condemn Russian missile strike on Ukrainian shopping mall

Rescuers work at a site of a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine June 27, 2022.
State Emergency Service Of Ukraine | via Reuters

G-7 leaders condemned a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian shopping mall that resulted in the death of innocent civilians.

"We stand united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims of this brutal attack. Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime," the leaders wrote in a joint statement.

"Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account," the statement added.

Rescue workers at a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, in Kremenchuk, in Ukraine's Poltava region, on June 27, 2022.
State Emergency Service Of Ukraine | via Reuters

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging platform that the strike on the mall in Kremenchuk had "no strategic value" and was not a site affiliated with Ukrainian armed forces.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it targets civilians.

"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," the G-7 leaders added.

 — Amanda Macias

Turkey's Erdogan adamant on objections to Sweden, Finland NATO bids

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey May 18, 2022. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT
Murat Cetinmuhurdar | Reuters

Turkey's president says he will do "whatever is necessary for our country's rights and interests" at the NATO summit in Spain.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday he'd provide documents and visuals on "terror groups," including Kurdish militant groups and the network of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen blamed for a 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, to show his counterparts the "hypocrisy" on terror.

Ankara has objected to Sweden's and Finland's bids to join NATO, citing what it considers to be a lax approach to groups Turkey deems national security threats, including the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and its Syrian extension.

Turkey has demanded the two Nordic countries extradite wanted individuals and lift arms restrictions imposed after Turkey's 2019 military incursion into northeast Syria.

"We will tell them clearly that it is not possible to expect a different attitude from Turkey unless this picture changes," he said after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

— Associated Press

National security adviser confirms U.S. will provide Ukraine with air defense systems

Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, speaks during an interview at an Economic Club of Washington event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed that the U.S. is in the final stages of preparing a security package for Ukraine that includes advanced air defense capabilities. 

"We do intend to finalize a package that includes advanced medium- and long-range air defense capabilities for the Ukrainians, along with some other items that are of urgent need, including ammunition for artillery and counterbattery radar systems," Sullivan told reporters on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Krun, Germany.

"I won't get into the details of the system. I'll wait until the contract actually gets done," he said. He added that President Joe Biden informed his G-7 counterparts and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of the upcoming security assistance package.

The U.S. has committed $6.1 billion in defense aid since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

 — Amanda Macias

NATO to greatly increase its high-readiness force to 300,000

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference ahead of a NATO defence ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 15, 2022. 
Yves Herman | Reuters

The NATO military alliance will increase the number of its forces at high readiness to over 300,000 from the current number of 40,000, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.

"We will transform the NATO Response Force and increase the number of our high readiness forces to well over 300,000," said at a press conference on Monday, ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid that begins on Tuesday.

The summit would see NATO strengthen its forward defenses and enhance its battlegroups in the eastern part of the alliance, he said. "We will also boost our ability to reinforce in crisis and conflict," he added. It would do this with:

  • 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.

The NATO Response Force is a high-readiness force comprising land, air, sea and special forces units that are capable of being deployed quickly. The force currently comprises around 40,000 troops.

NATO's announcements come as the military alliance tries to best assist Ukraine in repelling the Russian invasion, with various NATO members sending arms to Kyiv, but trying to avoid a direct confrontation with nuclear power Russia.

NATO's summit will see its 30 member countries meet, as well as representatives from its allies. Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea will join the summit for the first time, and Georgia and the European Union will also take part.

— Holly Ellyatt

'For as long as it takes': G-7 issues statement in support of Ukraine

The G-7 — which comprises the world's most wealthy nations of the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan — has published a statement in which they affirm their continued support for Ukraine and committed to further punishing Russia on the economic front.

"We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes," the G-7 said in the communique on Monday.

The groups said it was committed to sustaining and intensifying international economic and political pressure on President Putin's regime and what it called "its enablers" in Belarus, depriving Russia of the economic means to persist in its war of aggression against Ukraine.

The targeted use of coordinated sanctions would, the group said, continue "for as long as necessary." Sanctions imposed on Russia so far were, the leaders said, "in defence of the rules-based international order that Russia has so egregiously violated." And there would be more sanctions, they noted.

"We will continue to explore new ways to isolate Russia from participating in the global market and crack down on evasion. We are determined to reduce Russia's revenues, including from gold. We will also continue to target evasion and backfilling activities," the G-7 said.

It added that it would further reduce Russia's export revenues by taking "appropriate steps to further reduce dependency on Russian energy," and "further restrict Russia's access to key industrial inputs, services, and technologies produced by our economies, particularly those supporting Russia's armament industrial base and technology sector."

Finally, the G-7 added that it will increase the costs of Russia's war on Ukraine by imposing targeted sanctions on those responsible for war crimes, exercising illegitimate authority in Ukraine, and those that it said were "standing behind Russia's engagement in efforts to increase global food insecurity by stealing and exporting Ukrainian grain or otherwise profit illegitimately from the war."

The group said it would assist the global economy and would take action to help mitigate spillover effects from the sanctions, especially relating to humanitarian and other basic needs, and vulnerable populations.

— Holly Ellyatt

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