President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 28 reiterated his call for the U.S. to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. This follows yesterday’s Russian missile strike on a shopping mall in central Ukraine that killed 18 people and left dozens more injured.

Zelensky called the strike in the city of Kremenchuk “one of the most brazen terrorist acts in European history” in an address Monday evening, adding that “only totally insane terrorists, who should have no place on earth, can strike missiles at such an object.”

At least 60 people were injured in the attack, and 38 were missing as of Tuesday morning. A total of 18 were confirmed to have died.

The local governor, Dmytro Lunin, described the attack as a crime against humanity, writing on Telegram that it was “an obvious and cynical act of terror against the civilian population”.

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Authorities say 440 people from emergency services continue to work on the still-smoldering site, including 14 psychologists brought in to support survivors.

Leaders of the Group of Seven nations (G7), collectively condemned the attack as a war crime, with the U.N. Security Council set to discuss the strike a meeting today, at the request of the Ukrainian government.

Zelensky urged Washington and members of the G7 “to recognize Russia as a state that sponsors terrorism,” adding that the designation “must be supported by the entire democratic world.”

If such a designation were to be made, it would have a far-reaching impact, including economic penalties on dozens of nations that continue to trade with Russia or have alliances with Moscow. It would also lead to the freezing of Russian assets and the prohibition of a variety of exports, both commercial and military.

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The label, which in the U.S. requires a finding by the secretary of state, can be imposed on any foreign nation that has “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” according to a State Department fact sheet. Presently, the list of designated countries comprises only of North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Cuba.

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“Adding Russia to the ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ list would be the nuclear economic option,” Jason Blazakis, a former State Department official and expert on terrorism designations, wrote in a recent essay.

Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Eurasia Center said that the idea Russia’s actions fit the criteria for designating Russia a sponsor of terrorism is “not without merit,” but added the caveat that “the question is, economically, what are the implications?”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when asked at a news conference last month if the U.S. would support such a move, said: “Our focus first and foremost is on doing everything we can to help bring this war to a quick end, and to stop the suffering of the Ukrainian people.”

Despite describing Russia’s attack on the shopping center in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, as a “war crime”, French President Emmanuel Macron today refused to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, saying “we don’t need any qualification whatsoever to carry these sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.”

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Speaking at the end of the G7 summit, Macron added: “I really hope that the end [of the conflict] can be achieved by the end of the year, with a certainty and a desire, which is that Russia cannot and must not win.”

Meanwhile, at a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on June 27, NATO General Jens Stoltenberg announced that they would adopt a new comprehensive assistance package to Ukraine. “We will agree a Comprehensive Assistance Package to Ukraine to help them uphold the right to self-defense” he said. “It is extremely important that we are ready to continue to provide support because Ukraine now faces brutality which we haven’t seen in Europe since the Second World War.”

Stoltenberg also said that the NATO summit would see world leaders “agreeing a new Strategic Concept – the Madrid Strategic Concept – as a blueprint for NATO in a more dangerous and unpredictable world.”

“We will agree a fundamental shift of our deterrence and defense with more high readiness forces, with more forward defense, with more pre-positioned equipment,” he added. “Then we hope to make progress on the accession of Finland and Sweden. And then, of course, we will also state that to be able to defend in a more dangerous world, we also need to invest more in our defenses.”

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With the summit taking place today in Madrid, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky posted on Twitter this afternoon:

“Had a phone conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Coordinated positions on the eve of the NATO Summit in Madrid. Stressed the importance of a powerful missile defense system for Ukraine to prevent Russian terrorist attacks.”

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