G7 summit: Zelensky and Fumio Kishida lay wreaths at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

Ukraine is seeking to encircle Russia’s troops in Bakhmut, as president Volodymyr Zelensky rejected counterpart Vladimir Putin’s claims to have finally captured the city after nine months of Europe’s bloodiest fighting in decades.

Mr Putin congratulated his troops after the Wagner Group claimed its mercenaries had seized the frontline Donetsk city on Saturday afternoon with “practically no” help from the Russian army.

But speaking from the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Mr Zelensky was insistent that Bakhmut – where US president Joe Biden claimed 100,000 Russian troops had died in recent months – “has not been captured by” Moscow.

The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, General Oleksandr Syrskyi, also claimed Kyiv’s troops were advancing on Russian forces in the suburbs and were getting closer to a “tactical encirclement” of the city.

Echoing these claims, Kyiv’s deputy defence Minister Hanna Maliar said: “Our forces have taken the city in a semi-encirclement, which gives us the opportunity to destroy the enemy … [who] has to defend himself in the part of the city he controls.”


‘Situation critical’ in Bakhmut

Ukraine has denied claims by Russia that it has taken full control of Bakhmut but warned the situation in the key battle town is “critical”.

Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s defence minister, pushed back on the claim by Yevgeny Prigozhin that his Wagner Group of mercenaries had seized the town  around lunchtime.

“Heavy fighting in Bakhmut. The situation is critical,” she said on the Telegram messaging app.

“As of now, our defenders control some industrial and infrastructure facilities in the area and the private sector.”

Matt Mathers20 May 2023 15:28


Outage at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant due to Russian shelling of power line, says Ukraine’s Energoatom

Ukraine’s state-owned power generating company Energoatom said on Monday that the outage at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was due to Russian shelling of an external power line.

The Dniprovska power line in Ukraine, which supplies power for the now Moscow-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, was disconnected after overnight Russian shelling, Energoatom said on the Telegram messaging app.

Martha Mchardy22 May 2023 07:36


Eight hurt in overnight attacks on Ukraine’s Dnipro, according to reports

At least eight people were wounded and scores of buildings were damaged in a Russian air attack overnight on the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine said on Monday, adding that air defence systems destroyed 20 drones and four cruise missiles.

Seven people were injured in an attack on Synelnykivskyi district of the Dnipropetrovsk region and at least one man was wounded in the attack on Dnipro city, the governor, Serhiy Lysak, said on Telegram.

With a Ukrainian counteroffensive looming, Russia has intensified its missile and drone strikes this month after a lull of nearly two months. Waves of attacks now come several times a week, the heaviest of the war.

“The Russian invaders attacked military and infrastructure facilities of the eastern outpost of Ukraine – the city of Dnipro,” Ukraine’s air force said on the Telegram messaging service.

“The attack was carried out by 16 different types of missiles and 20 Shahed-136/131 strike drones,” the air force said, adding that air defences brought down 20 Russian drones and four cruise missiles.

Scores of buildings, including private homes, apartment blocks and administrative infrastructure were damaged or destroyed, he said.

The reports have not been independently verified.

Martha Mchardy22 May 2023 07:35


Russia creating new ‘elite’ aviation attack group, says MoD

The British Ministry of Defence says Russia is “highly likely creating a new ‘elite’ attack aviation group” to join its operations over Ukraine.

The new group is codenamed “Shtorm” and consists of at least one squadron of Su-24 Fencer and Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers, and a squadron of attack helicopters, the MoD said in its latest intelligence update.

“The mix of aircraft types suggests the group will have a primary role of ground attack missions,” the MoD said.

It also said that the creation of the group highlights how Russia assesses its regular air force squadrons have “severely underperformed in their core function of conducting airstrikes on Ukrainian lines”.

Sravasti Dasgupta22 May 2023 07:30


Russia says F-16s to Ukraine would raise question of NATO involvement

The transfer of F-16 jets to Ukraine would raise the question of NATO’s role in the conflict, a senior Russian diplomat said on Monday, while accusing the U.S. of subordinating the Group of Seven (G7) to its policy of inflicting “strategic defeat” on Russia.

U.S. president Joe Biden on Friday endorsed training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy assured Biden that the aircraft would not be used to go into Russian territory.

“There is no infrastructure for the operation of the F-16 in Ukraine and the needed number of pilots and maintenance personnel is not there either,” Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said in remarks published on the embassy’s Telegram messaging channel.

“What will happen if the American fighters take off from NATO airfields, controlled by foreign ‘volunteers’?”

Antonov said that any Ukrainian strike on the Crimea region would be considered a strike on Russia.

“It is important that the United States be fully aware of the Russian response,” Antonov said.

Ukraine has intensified its strikes on Russian-held targets especially on the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Antonov also reiterated a Russian accusation against the United States of subjecting Western countries to its agenda.

“Washington completely subordinated the G7 members to its own policy regarding the conflict in Ukraine,” Antonov said, adding that the United States wanted a “strategic defeat” for Russia.

During their summit on the weekend in Japan, the G7 countries signalled long-term support for Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who also attended the gathering, said he was confident that Ukraine would receive supplies of the F-16.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February last year, has increasingly portrayed what it calls its “special military operation” as a campaign against the West.

Ukraine and its Western allies call Russia’s action an unprovoked war to grab land.

Martha Mchardy22 May 2023 07:28


Ukraine’s Energoatom says power outage at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

Ukraine’s state-owned power generating company Energoatom said on Monday that there was a power outage at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant after a Russia-installed official said the plant was switched to standby and emergency power supply.

“Yes, we have the seventh blackout since the start of the (Russian) occupation,” Energoatom told Reuters.

Yuriy Malashko, governor of the Zaporizhzhia region in Ukraine said that there was a fire at one of the facilities in Zaporizhzhia city due to an overload in the power system.

“Problems with electricity supply that arose in the city of Zaporizhzhia are not related to shelling,” Malashko said on the Telegram messaging app.

Martha Mchardy22 May 2023 07:25


Estonia and Latvia to jointly purchase German air defence systems

Estonia and Latvia have announced a plan to jointly acquire German air defence systems for the protection of the two Nato nations’ airspace.

According to the provisional deal, deliveries of the medium-range IRIS-T SLM air defence system could begin next year and the systems could be operational in 2025.

Estonian defence minister Hanno Pevkur described the deal as “a joint project of historical proportions for our defence co-operation, the largest one to date” between Tallinn and Riga.

“Presuming that negotiations are successful, we hope to reach contract and, subsequently, announce the official winning bidder this summer,” Mr Pevkur said in a statement.

The German air defence system, consisting of truck-mounted launchers, missiles and a separate command vehicle, is designed to protect cities, armies and civilian populations from air attacks and to be effective at neutralising planes and helicopters.

Andy Gregory22 May 2023 07:01


Russia launches overnight air attack on Ukraine’s Dnipro

Russia launched an overnight air attack on the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, according to officials.

Serhiy Lysak, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region of which Dnipro is the administrative centre, said on Telegram that the region “withstood the attack”, referring to Russian forces as “terrorists”.

“Thanks to the defence forces, we withstood the attack. Details will come in due time.”

The RBC-Ukraine news agency reported that around 15 blasts were heard in Dnipro during more than 90 minutes of air raid alerts.

The Kyiv Independent reported that explosions were heard in Dnipro at 2.54am.

It was not immediately known whether the blasts were air defence systems destroying their targets or Russian missiles or drones hitting their targets.

FILE-A police officer is seen at the site of a residential area hit by a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region


Sravasti Dasgupta22 May 2023 06:30


Zelensky draws parallels between Bakhmut and Hiroshima

Speaking at the G7 summit in Japan on Sunday, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky drew a parallel between the destruction of Bakhmut and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

“I’ll tell you openly: Photographs of ruined Hiroshima absolutely remind me of Bakhmut and other similar settlements,” Mr Zelensky told reporters after laying flowers at the cenotaph to victims of the 1945 atrocity.

“Nothing left alive, all the buildings ruined.”

(AP /Eugene Hoshiko)

Andy Gregory22 May 2023 06:01


Brazil’s Lula says meeting fell through because Zelensky was late

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said that a scheduled meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky fell through on the sidelines of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Japan because the Ukrainian president was late.

“I had an interview, a bilateral one with Ukraine here in this room at 3.15pm. We waited and received the information that he was late,” Mr Lula was quoted as saying by Reuters.

He added that Mr Zelensky “did not show up … Clearly he had appointments and he couldn’t come.”

Earlier Zelensky had earlier played down the fact he did not meet with Lula.

On the sidelines of the summit Mr Lula also said that the Russia-Ukraine war should be discussed at the UN and not at the G7 meeting.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a news conference after attending the Group of Seven nations summit

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Sravasti Dasgupta22 May 2023 05:30

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