The Bakersfield Californian

G7 ends with Ukraine in focus as Zelenskyy meets world leaders


HIROSHIMA, Japan — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy huddled with some of his biggest backers as the Group of Seven summit closed in Hiroshima on Sunday, building momentum for his country’s war effort even as Russia claimed a battlefiel­d victory that was quickly disputed by Ukraine.

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. It also stole much of the limelight from other priorities, including security challenges in Asia and outreach to the developing world, that the leaders focused on at the three-day gathering.

Hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was committed to “strong backing for Ukraine from every possible dimension.”

Zelenskyy 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.

Hanging over Sunday’s talks was the Russian claim that forces of the Wagner private army and Russian troops had seized the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. The eight-month battle for the eastern city — seen by both sides as a major symbolic prize — has been the longest and likely bloodiest of the war.

Comments by Zelenskyy earlier in the day in English suggested that the Russians had finally taken the city. But he and other Ukrainian officials later cast doubt on that assessment, with Zelenskyy telling reporters in Ukrainian that “Bakhmut is not occupied by the Russian Federation as of today.”

U.S. President Joe Biden announced new military aid worth $375 million for Ukraine, saying the U.S. would provide ammunition and armored vehicles. That pledge came after the U.S. 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.

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