‘Horseback riding is the best’: G7 leaders mock Putin in shirtless horseback riding photo

Russian forces were fighting Monday to capture Lysychansk, the last major city still held by Ukrainian troops in eastern Lugansk province, after Moscow-backed separatists said they were advancing on multiple fronts.

In a victory for the Kremlin campaign, Lysychansk’s twin town of Sievierodonetsk, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting, fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday. Russian missiles also hit Kyiv for the first time in weeks on Sunday, attacks condemned by US President Joe Biden as “barbarism”.

Cup The news agency quoted a separatist official on Sunday as saying that forces from Moscow had entered Lysychansk from five directions and were isolating the Ukrainian defenders.

Reuters could not confirm the report.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Russian forces were using artillery to try to cut off Lysychansk from the south, but made no mention of separatists entering the city.

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Russian attack jets struck near Lysychansk, the general staff added in its update on Monday.

“Lysychansk was an eyesore last week,” said Elena, an elderly woman from the town who was among dozens of evacuees who arrived in the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk by bus from frontline areas. “I already told my husband that if I died, please bury me behind the house,” she added.

The RIA The agency quoted a separatist official as saying that separatist forces evacuated more than 250 people, including children, from the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk on Sunday.

The industrial area was the last part of Sievierodonetsk held by Ukrainian forces before their withdrawal.

Luhansk and the neighboring city of Donetsk make up Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, the country’s industrial heartland.

“Partners must act faster”

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said missiles also hit the central city of Cherkasy on Sunday, hitting a strategic bridge linking western Ukraine and eastern battlefields.

“They are trying to limit the transfer of our western reserves and weapons to the east,” he said. Reuters.

Odessa regional administration spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said a missile strike in the Odessa region of southern Ukraine destroyed residential buildings and caused a fire. Six people were injured including a child, he added.

Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the details of the report. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Ukraine needs a modern air defense system to deter Russian missiles, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a speech on Sunday evening, after missiles earlier struck a building and near a garden. children in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

“Partners must act faster if they are really partners, not observers. Delays in arms transfers to our state, any restrictions – this is in fact an invitation for Russia to strike again and again”, he added.

The United States is expected to announce this week the purchase of an advanced medium- and long-range surface-to-air missile defense system for Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Biden called Sunday’s strikes in Kyiv acts of “barbarism” as leaders of the Group of Seven nations gathered for a summit in Germany.

Russia close to default

Some G7 leaders mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin as they gathered for a group photo at the summit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested leaders “show them our pecs” in reference to Putin’s shirtless poses over the years, including on horseback.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: ‘We’re going to have the shirtless riding show. European Union President Ursula von der Leyen replied: “Oh yes. Horse riding is the best.”

Britain, Canada, Japan and the United States have proposed a ban on gold imports from Russia to tighten pressure on Moscow and cut off its means of financing the invasion.

Sweeping sanctions have effectively cut Russia off from the global financial system and rendered its assets untouchable for many investors.

It moved closer to defaulting on Sunday amid few signs that investors holding its international bonds had received payment, heralding what would be its first default in decades.

Some Taiwanese holders of Russian Eurobonds failed to collect interest due on May 27 after a grace period expired on Sunday evening, two sources said.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin called a “special military operation” to rid the country of far-right nationalists and ensure Russian security.

Kyiv and the West dismiss this as a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has killed thousands, sent millions fleeing Ukraine, destroyed cities and driven up food and oil prices. energy.

Clyde P. Johnson