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Ukraine: Russia's deadly strike on restaurant and NATO warns Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin walks down the steps to address troops from the defence ministry on the grounds of the Kremlin in central Moscow on June 27, 2023.
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks down the steps to address troops from the defence ministry on the grounds of the Kremlin in central Moscow on June 27, 2023. Copyright SERGEI GUNEYEV/AFP
Copyright SERGEI GUNEYEV/AFP
By Euronews with AFP/AP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

Multiple deaths in Russian strike on restaurant

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At least 11 people were killed and 61 injured in a Russian strike on a popular restaurant in Kramatorsk on Tuesday. 

Three teenagers are among the dead in the attack on the only major city in eastern Ukrainian controlled by Kyiv.

“Rescuers are digging through the rubble of the destroyed building and looking for people,” the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said on Telegram. 

The strike destroyed the Ria Pizza restaurant in the city centre, popular with journalists, aid workers and soldiers.

Ukrainian authorities have arrested a local man they accuse of helping Russia direct the missile strike. 

Three Colombians, famous writer Hector Abad, politician Sergio Jaramillo and journalist Catalina Gomez were slightly injured while having dinner in the restaurant with the Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina, according to a press release.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it only hits military targets, as it has repeatedly said throughout the war.

Home to an important railway hub and military sites, Kramatorsk is regularly attacked by Russian bombardments. 

The deadliest hit the city's train station in April 2022, leaving more than 60 dead and 160 injured, as civilians tried to flee the city. 

NATO ready to defend against 'Moscow or Minsk'

NATO is ready to defend itself against any threat from "Moscow or Minsk", said Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday.

The Secretary General of the military alliance made the comments after Belarus announced it would welcome Wagner's boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, following his weekend mutiny. 

Stoltenberg suggested the US-led military alliance would beef up its defences during an upcoming summit in Lithuania, in order to protect all its members, particularly those bordering Russia and Belarus.

"It is too early to make a final judgment on the consequences of Prigozhin's installation in Belarus and on the very probable presence also in Belarus of part of its forces," Stoltenberg told a news conference.

"What is crystal clear is that we have sent a clear message to Moscow and Minsk: NATO is here to protect every ally and every bit of NATO territory," he said. 

“So there is no room for a misunderstanding in Moscow or Minsk about our ability to defend the allies against any potential threat.”

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Troop reserves still to be used, says Ukrainian defence minister

The recapture of several villages occupied by Russia was "not the main event" of Kyiv's counteroffensive, the country's defence minister has said. 

Speaking to the Financial Times, Oleksiy Reznikov said: "When it happens, you will all see it... Everyone will see everything." 

He made the comments in an interview published on Wednesday, brushing aside media coverage of slow progress against stiff Russian resistance. 

Ukraine's main troop reserves, including most brigades recently trained in the West and equipped with modern NATO tanks and armoured vehicles, have yet to be used in the operation, Reznikov added.

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Support for arming Ukraine rises in US - poll

A majority of Americans support giving Ukraine weapons to defend itself against Russia, a Reuters-Ipsos survey has found. 

Respondents said such aid was necessary to demonstrate to China and other US rivals that the country will protect its allies and interests. 

The two-day poll, which concluded on Tuesday, found a sharp rise in support for arming Ukraine, with 65% of respondents backing shipments of lethal aid compared with 46% in a May poll.

Support was more politically skewed, however. 

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Eighty-one per cent of Democrats, 56% of Republicans and 57% of independents favour giving Kyiv weapons, according to the latest poll.

The findings offer firmer backing for US President Joe Biden's policy of doing "whatever it takes" to help Ukraine recapture territory seized by Russia. 

Putin wanted to 'wipe out' Wagner, says Belarussian leader

Alexander Lukashenko has claimed he persuaded the Russian president not to annihilate the Wagner mercenary group, following their mutiny on the weekend. 

In a fiery televised address, Putin vowed to crush the rebellion, claiming the West and Kyiv wanted Russians to "kill each other".  

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Yet, hours later a deal was struck that allowed Prigozhin and his fighters to seek exile in Belarus.

Describing his conversation with Putin on Saturday, Lukashenko said: “The most dangerous thing, as I saw it, was not the situation itself, but its possible ramifications. That was the most dangerous part of it."

He used the Russian slang phrase for killing someone, equivalent to "wipe out" in English.

"I also realised that a tough decision was taken - to eliminate those involved. I suggested that Putin should not rush to do it. I suggested that I talk to Prigozhin, his commanders. Putin replied: "Listen, it's useless. He doesn't even pick up the phone, he doesn't want to talk to anyone."

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There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin on Lukashenko's remarks, which were carried by the Belarussian media.

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