G7 summit: Zelensky compares the destruction of Bakhmut to Hiroshima
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky compared the damage in Bakhmut to the destruction of Hiroshima after it was hit by an atomic bomb, as he denied that Russia had captured the frontline city.
Zelensky – who traveled to Japan for a Group of Seven (G7) meeting – said the images of Hiroshima “really remind him of” Bakhmut and other Ukrainian cities.
“All the same, nothing is left alive, all the buildings have been destroyed,” Zelensky said at a press conference.
There are conflicting claims about who controls Bakhmut. On Saturday, the head of Russia’s private Wagner military group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed to have captured Bakhmut after months of brutal fighting, saying he would hand him over to Russia later in May,
Zelensky used the conference to again deny that Bakhmut has been Russian since Sunday and that Ukrainian soldiers remain in the city.
“We continue, we fight. said Zelensky.
“I clearly understand what is happening in Bakhmut. I cannot share the tactics of the military, but a country even bigger than ours cannot defeat us. A little time will pass and we will win. Today, our soldiers are in Bakhmut.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) said they were continuing to counter Russia in the city and advancing into the suburbs, making it “very difficult for the enemy to stay in Bakhmut”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his congratulations on “the completion of the Artemovsk liberation operation”, Russian news agency TASS reported, according to the Kremlin, using the Soviet-Russian name Bakhmut.
CNN is unable to verify the claims of either side on the battlefield.
If confirmed, the capture of Bakhmut would mark Russia’s first gain in months, but the city’s symbolism still outweighed its strategic importance.
Moscow deployed huge amounts of manpower, arms, and attention towards the city, but largely failed to break a stubborn Ukrainian resistance that had exceeded most expectations.
Bakhmut’s downfall would also be a definite boost for Prigozhin, who recently announced that his men would withdraw completely because dwindling ammunition supplies and mounting casualties meant there was “nothing left to chop the meat”.
Prigozhin is a former catering patron who rose to prominence throughout the war, and his forces were heavily involved in the fighting.
Zelensky made a surprise appearance at the G7, traveling halfway around the world to address the world’s major industrial democracies in person.
The Ukrainian leader used the last day of the summit in Japan to ask the G7 leaders for more powerful weapons and tougher sanctions against Moscow.
He left after getting a clear boost after the Biden administration dropped its objections to sending advanced fighter jets to Ukraine.
“I can’t tell you now how many planes we can have. I can’t tell you for sure when that will happen but we’re going to speed it up because it’s important to us every day. We are losing people’s lives,” he said.
At the G7, Ukraine’s allies reiterated their support, with British Prime Minister RIshi Sunak declaring that “Ukraine must not only win the war, but win a just and lasting peace”.