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Russian missiles hit Kiev as G7 leaders announce Russia gold ban

France's President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet for bilateral talks on June 26, 2022, in Elmau Castle, southern Germany, on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of Seven rich nations (G7). (Photo by AFP)

Russian missiles have struck at least two residential buildings in the Ukrainian capital, as G7 leaders gathered in Europe to discuss further sanctions against Moscow.

Several explosions shook Kiev’s central Shevchenkivskiy district early on Sunday, causing a widespread damage and a fire at a residential building, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.

“There are people under the rubble,” Klitschko said. He added that several people had already been hospitalized and that residents are being rescued and evacuated from two buildings.

At least five people were wounded, the head of Ukraine’s police force, Ihor Klymenko, said on national television. There have been no major strikes on the capital since June 5.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said G7 countries must respond to new missile strikes against Ukraine on Sunday by imposing further sanctions on Russia and providing more heavy weapons to Kiev.

Members of the G7 confirmed a ban on imports of Russian gold at the start of their three day summit in the Bavarian Alps. The move by Britain, the United States, Japan and Canada is part of efforts to tighten the sanctions on Moscow.

“The measures we announced today will deal a direct blow to Russian oligarchs and strike at the very heart of Putin’s war machine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding. The UK and our allies are doing just that,” Johnson added.

The British government said Russian gold exports totaled 12.6 billion pounds ($15.45 billion) last year, and wealthy Russians are buying bullion to reduce the financial impact of Western sanctions.

A senior US administration representative said the G7 would make an official announcement on the gold import ban on Tuesday.

“This is a key export, a key source of revenue for Russia in terms of their ability to transact with the global financial system,” the US official said.

In addition to the ban on gold imports, the G7 leaders also had “really constructive” talks about a possible price cap on Russian oil imports, according to a German government source.

This comes as the western powers are grappling with several crises, including surging inflation and energy prices. The US, along with its European allies, has been seeking to shift the blame on Russia. They have imposed a raft of financial and energy sanctions against Kremlin.

The G7 leading economic powers include France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. This year, Germany holds the group’s rotating presidency. The group - formerly known as G8 - excluded Russia after Crimea Peninsula rejoined Russia in 2014.

This year, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz invited Senegal, Argentina, Indonesia, India and South Africa as partner countries to the summit.

Following the conclusion of the G7 summit, leaders of the 30-member NATO will convene for their annual summit, which is scheduled to be held Wednesday through Thursday in the Spanish capital of Madrid.

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