Zelenskyy urges G-7 to send more weapons and impose a price cap on Russian energy exports after Russian missile strikes rock Ukraine
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for more military aid and stronger sanctions against Russia at an emergency meeting of the Group of Seven nations.
- The virtual G-7 meeting was called after Russian missiles struck civilian infrastructure in a dozen Ukrainian cities.
- Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the G-7 has issued several punishing rounds of sanctions against Moscow.
- Russia was kicked out of the G-8 after it illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded Tuesday for more military aid and stronger sanctions against Russia at an emergency meeting of the Group of Seven nations.
Zelenskyy's virtual remarks to G-7 leaders followed intensified Russian missile strikes on major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv. The Ukrainian leader, who has not left his war-weary country since the Kremlin invaded it in late February, said Russian forces used more than 100 cruise missiles and dozens of drones in their attack.
Zelenskyy pressed G-7 leaders to equip his nation with Western air defense systems that are designed to track and strike ballistic missiles in the sky before they reach their targets. He said that when Ukraine "receives a sufficient number of modern and effective air defense systems, the key element of Russian terror — missile strikes — will cease to work."
Zelenskyy said the group of the world's largest economies should try to weaken the Kremlin's energy sector after Russian strikes hit at least 12 Ukrainian energy facilities.
"When Russia attacks the energy sector and energy stability of our countries, we must block its energy sector with sanctions, break the stability of Russian revenues from oil and gas trade," he said.
The Ukrainian leader also called for a "tough price cap" on Russian exports of oil and gas in order to weaken Moscow's revenue stream.
The G-7 has imposed a slew of coordinated sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. The group was once known as the G-8 until it removed Russia and became the G-7 after Moscow illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
In a joint statement, the G-7 said it would continue to "impose economic costs on Russia" and "provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support and will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes."
The group also condemned Monday's strikes, which it described as "indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations" which constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law.
"We will hold President Putin and those responsible to account," the G-7 leaders wrote in a joint statement.
Monday's strikes were an apparent tit-for-tat retaliation for an explosion over the weekend on the Kerch bridge, which links Russia to the Crimean Peninsula.
The Kremlin placed the blame squarely on Ukraine and vowed a "harsh" response.
Zelenskyy condemned the missile strikes. "They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth. Destroy our people who are sleeping at home in Zaporizhzhia, kill people who go to work in Dnipro and Kyiv," he said on the Telegram messaging app as the missile strikes across Ukraine became apparent.
The strikes killed at least 14 people and wounded at least 97, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya told an emergency session of the international forum.
"Deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime," Kyslytsya said. He added that Russian forces launched about 84 missiles against residential buildings, schools, museums, city centers and energy facilities.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack on Monday, calling it an "unacceptable escalation."
"The Secretary-General is deeply shocked by [Monday's] large-scale missile attacks by the armed forces of the Russian Federation on cities across Ukraine that reportedly resulted in widespread damage to civilian areas and led to dozens of people being killed and injured," a statement from his office read.
The U.N. estimates that Russia's war in Ukraine has claimed more than 6,200 civilian lives and led to more than 9,300 injuries. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights adds that the death toll is likely higher.