Russian military says it hit shopping mall, claims it was used to store rockets – World News

The Russian military says it has hit a shopping mall on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv because it has been used to store rockets.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov charged Monday that the Ukrainian forces were using the shopping mall to reload multiple rocket launchers and store rockets used for shelling Russian troops. He said that a battery of multiple rocket launchers and ammunition for them were destroyed in the strike. The defense ministry spokesman’s claims could not be independently verified.

The shopping center in the densely populated Podil district was reduced to a smoldering ruin after being hit late Sunday by shelling that killed eight people, according to Ukrainian emergency officials. The attack shattered every window in a neighboring high-rise.

MOSCOW — The Russian military says it will continue using its state-of-the-art hypersonic missile to hit particularly important targets in Ukraine.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday that the Kinzhal hypersonic missile “has proven its efficiency in destroying heavily fortified special facilities.”

He said that a Kinzhal missile was used Friday to hit a Soviet-era arsenal for storing missiles near the western town of Deliatyn in the Carpathian Mountains, the first time the new weapon was used in combat. It also was used in a strike on the fuel depot in Kostiantynivka near the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv over the weekend. Konashenkov noted that Kinzhal was used for these strikes due to its high kinetic energy and its ability to penetrate defenses.

Konashenkov said that Kinzhal missiles were fired at a distance of more than 1,000 kilometers.

Kinzhal, one of an array of hypersonic weapons developed by Russian in recent years, has a range of 2,000 kilometers and flies at a speed 10 times the speed of sound. It’s carried by specially redesigned MiG-31 fighter jets.

NEW YORK — Russia has warned that relations with the US are “on the verge of a breach” and summoned the US ambassador for an official protest against President Joe Biden’s criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement Monday referred to “recent unacceptable statements” by Biden about Putin. Biden referred to Putin last week as a “war criminal” in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Foreign Ministry says that at the meeting with US ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan “it was emphasized that remarks such as these by the American President, which are unworthy of a state figure of such a high rank, put Russian-American relations on the verge of a breach.”

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Monday that a NATO drill in Norway that was planned before the invasion of Ukraine sends “an important signal that there is co-operation, co-operation and a readiness to defend our territory.”

The visit to the Cold Response exercise “shouldn’t be interpreted as a step toward a Swedish NATO membership,” Andersson told reporters.

Sweden has a close partnership with NATO and that “has deepened during the crisis.”

Support for joining NATO has surged to record levels in non-Alliance members Finland and Sweden.

LONDON — Britain is accusing the Russian state of being behind hoax calls to two government ministers by an imposter posing as the prime minister of Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the hoaxer was able to speak to him on a video call Thursday. Home Secretary Priti Patel said she had received a similar call, and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said an unsuccessful attempt was made to speak to her.

Wallace said he became suspicious and hung up after the caller “posed several misleading questions.” He accused Russia of “dirty tricks.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Max Blain, said Monday that “the Russian state was responsible for the hoax calls made to government ministers last week.”

NEW YORK — Russia’s central bank has cautiously reopened bond trading on the Moscow exchange for the first time since the country invaded Ukraine.

The price of Russia’s ruble-denominated government debt fell Monday, sending borrowing costs higher. Stock trading has remained closed, with no word on when it might reopen.

The central bank bought bonds to support prices. It has imposed wide-ranging restrictions on financial transactions to try to stabilize markets and combat the severe fallout from Western sanctions that have sent the ruble sharply lower against the US dollar and the euro.

Ratings agencies have downgraded Russia’s bonds to “junk” status. Russia’s finance ministry last week flirted with default by threatening to pay foreign holders of dollar bonds in massively devalued rubles before sending the money in dollars.

Stocks last traded on Feb. 25, the day after the invasion started and sent the main stock index sharply lower.

VILNIUS, Lithuania — The Dutch prime minister says that the European Union should be careful when imposing new sanctions on Russian gas and oil companies because some nations are still heavily dependent on these resources.

“We must be sure that energy independence has sufficient gas and oil in the system. It is very important for the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the countries of eastern Europe,” Mark Rutte told reporters after meeting Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. “We need to do this as soon as possible, but we cannot do that tomorrow.”

Nauseda replied saying that Lithuania invested heavily into energy security for decades and now is ready for a full boycott of Russian oil and gas.

“Now that the masks have fallen, it is time to move forward implementing decisions that are absolutely necessary for Europe to feel safer, more independent and resistant to external shocks,” Nauseda said.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency says radiation monitors around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst meltdown in 1986, have stopped working.

In a statement Monday, the agency also said there are no longer firefighters available in the region to protect forests tainted by decades of radioactivity as the weather warms. The plant was seized by Russian forces on Feb. 24.

According to Monday’s statement, the combination of risks could mean a “significant deterioration” of the ability to control the spread of radiation not just in Ukraine but beyond the country’s borders in weeks and months to come.

Management of the Chernobyl plant said Sunday that 50 staff members who had been working nonstop since the Russian takeover have been rotated out and replaced.

LVIV, Ukraine — Authorities in Odesa have accused Russian forces of damaging civilian houses in a strike on the Black Sea port city on Monday.

The city council said no one was killed in the strike and that emergency services quickly extinguished a fire. Mayor Hennady Trukhanov visited the site and said “we will not leave Odessa and we will fight for our city.”

Odesa is in southwestern Ukraine and has largely avoided the fighting so far, though Russia has ships operating off the Black Sea coast.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s prosecutor general said a Russian shell struck a chemical plant outside the city of Sumy a little after 3 am Monday, causing a leak in a 50-ton tank of ammonia that took hours to contain.

Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed the leak was a “planned provocation” by Ukrainian forces to falsely accuse Russia of a chemical attack.

Konashenkov also said an overnight cruise missile strike hit a Ukrainian military training center in the Rivne region. He said 80 foreign and Ukrainian troops were killed.

Vitaliy Koval, the head of the Rivne regional military administration, confirmed a twin Russian missile strike on a training center there early Monday but offered no details about injuries or deaths.

BRUSSELS — EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, most notably in the besieged port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians have been killed.

Borrell says that “what’s happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime. Destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody in an indiscriminate manner. This is something awful.”

The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands is gathering evidence about any possible war crimes in Ukraine, but Russia, like the United States, does not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

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