British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned Vladimir Putin’s “cruelty and barbarism” after a missile strike on a shopping centre in Ukraine left scores feared dead.
The prime minister said the attack, on the day Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the G7 summit, would strengthen the resolve of allies to resist Putin.
Zelensky, who had urged G7 leaders to supply missile defence systems, described the toll of the attack on the site in Kremenchuk as “unimaginable”.
Johnson said: “This appalling attack has shown once again the depths of cruelty and barbarism to which the Russian leader will sink.
“Once again our thoughts are with the families of innocent victims in Ukraine.
“Putin must realise that his behaviour will do nothing but strengthen the resolve of the Ukraine and every other G7 country to stand by the Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
The massacre at the mall followed days of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, as Zelensky prepared to address the G7 remotely.
Johnson is said to have told fellow leaders that it was “stupid of Putin” to attack Kyiv “when all of us are in the same place because it is only going to make us feel more resolute and united”.
Earlier, the prime minister said the “price of freedom is worth paying” and the UK must be prepared to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia for as long as it takes in spite of the cost.
The conflict in Ukraine has added to the rising cost of living by exacerbating turbulence in international energy prices and causing food shortages due to supplies of grain being prevented from leaving the country’s ports by Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
But speaking at the G7 summit in Germany, Johnson said those pressures will start to ease and the long-term economic impact of defending the rules-based system of international conduct will be beneficial to the global economy.
If Mr Putin is not resisted, it could give the green light to countries such as China to pursue their own goals of territorial expansion, he suggested.