Zelensky Rebuts Russia's Claim About a Key City

At G7, the Ukraine leader says Bakhmut has not fallen
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2023 8:05 AM CDT
Biden to Zelensky at G7: 'We Have Ukraine's Back'
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gestures during a meeting with President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Sunday, May 21, 2023.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky huddled with some of his biggest backers as the Group of Seven summit closed in Hiroshima, Japan, on Sunday, building momentum for his country's war effort, per the AP. The Ukraine leader also denied Russian claims that its forces had taken the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut after some confusion on the matter. Responding to a reporter’s question about the status of the city, Zelensky said: “Bakhmut is not occupied by the Russian Federation as of today.” Earlier, his response in English to a question about Bakhmut raised some doubts. "They’ve destroyed everything," he said. “But, for today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts. There is nothing on this place, so—just ground and—and a lot of dead Russians."

A spokesman later clarified that Zelensky meant Ukraine still controls the city, but it's been so decimated that there is no longer much to control. The Ukrainian leader's in-person appearance in his trademark olive drab underscored the centrality of the war for the G7 bloc of rich democracies. Hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was committed to “strong backing for Ukraine from every possible dimension.” Zelensky held two major rounds of meetings Sunday, one with G7 leaders and a second with them and a host of invited guests including India and South Korea. He also spoke one-on-one with several leaders.

President Biden, for his part, announced new military aid worth $375 million for Ukraine, saying the US would provide ammunition and armored vehicles. That pledge came after the US agreed to allow training on American-made F-16 fighter jets, laying the groundwork for their eventual transfer to Ukraine. “We have Ukraine’s back and we’re not going anywhere,” Biden said.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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