The essentials in brief:
- G7 states pledge “support” to Ukraine
- Pope entrusts Cardinal Zuppi with peace mission
- Ukraine denies Russian capture of Bakhmut
- Wanted list outraged the Hague Criminal Court
“We reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace,” said the heads of state and government of the seven major democratic industrialized nations (G7). At their summit in Hiroshima, Japan, they also announced that they would close gaps in the previous sanctions against Russia. The heads of state announced their intention to “restrict” the multi-billion euro trade in Russian rough diamonds. In addition, the G7 group wants to “deprive Russia of technologies, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine”.
Speaking in Hiroshima, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was “very happy” with US President Joe Biden’s willingness to allow Ukraine access to US-made F-16 fighter jets. “It will really help our society, our people, to save houses, families,” said Zelenskyy. Originally, he was only supposed to be connected to the G7 summit this Sunday via video. However, after Biden had sent out positive signals about the delivery of the F-16 jets, Zelenskyj personally traveled to Japan.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said his country would “work with the United States and the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark to provide Ukraine with the fighter planes it needs.” Selenskyj thanked the head of government from London “for Great Britain’s leading role in the international fighter jet coalition”.
Ukraine has been pushing for a supply of western fighter jets for the war against Russian attack troops for some time. The leadership in Kiev is particularly interested in the F-16s, which are used by numerous armed forces around the world. According to military experts, they would improve the ability of the Ukrainian Air Force to strike targets in the air or on the ground.
On the fringes of the summit, Zelenskyi met with representatives of several countries for one-on-one talks, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The meeting with Modi was the first for the two politicians since Russia’s war of aggression began in February 2022. India is not a member of the G7 group, but is attending the summit as a guest. The government in New Delhi has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
This Sunday Zelenskyj will also hold bilateral talks with Biden. It is planned for the afternoon (local time), said a US government representative.
Pope entrusts Cardinal Zuppi with peace mission
With a view to the Ukraine war, Pope Francis commissioned the Italian Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi with a peace mission. The head of the Catholic Church asked Zuppi “to help reduce tensions in the conflict in Ukraine,” a Vatican spokesman said. Francis has the hope that Zuppi’s mission “Paths to Peace” can initiate. The timetable and “modalities” of the mission are still under consideration.
Zuppi has been the President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference since last year. The 67-year-old comes from the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, which specializes in diplomacy and peace efforts. A week ago, the Pope received the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj for a private audience at the Vatican.
Ukraine denies Russian capture of Bakhmut
Ukraine has denied statements by Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin that the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine had been completely taken by Russian troops. “That’s not true,” said a spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces. “Our units are fighting in Bakhmut.”. However, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maljar admitted: “The situation is critical.”
Bakhmut is the scene of the longest and heaviest fighting since the Russian invasion 15 months ago. The city has a high symbolic value for both sides, while the strategic importance is considered limited. On the Russian side, it is mainly mercenaries from the “Wagner Group” that are fighting. Their leader explained in a video on Saturday: “We have completely taken over the entire city, from house to house.” He announced that Bakhmut would be handed over to the Russian military. The Wagner forces were withdrawing from May 25th.
Wanted list outraged the Hague Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC) reacted with sharp criticism to the appearance of its chief prosecutor on a Russian wanted list. “The ICC considers these measures unacceptable,” said the Hague-based court. “The court will not be swayed in exercising its rightful mandate to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes.”
A picture of the British ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan appeared in the database of the Russian Interior Ministry on Friday. No information was provided on the alleged crime for which Khan appeared on the wanted list. Khan issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in March. The ICC accuses Putin of war crimes in connection with the alleged kidnapping of thousands of Ukrainian children from war zones.
“Fair Russia” supports Putin’s re-election
“Fair Russia” was the first Russian party to nominate Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin for re-election. At a party conference, leader Sergey Mironov announced that his party would not have its own candidate in the presidential election in March 2024 and would support Putin. In view of the war in Ukraine, the 70-year-old needs the “support of the whole people”.
So far, Putin, who has been in power for more than 20 years, has not yet officially declared his candidacy. However, most observers assume that he will compete again. There are no other applicants in sight.
wa/ack (afp, dpa, rtr)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from the combat zones cannot be independently verified.