Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday urged the Group of Seven world leaders to supply modern air defense systems to his nation to better protect it from daily missile strikes — and to toughen economic sanctions against Russia.
The high-level summit in the Bavarian Alps, which Zelensky attended via videoconference from Kyiv, came as Russian forces assaulted Lysychansk — the last big city still held by Ukrainian troops in eastern Luhansk province.
Neighboring Sievierodonetsk fell to the Russians over the weekend after weeks of fierce resistance.
Leading economic powers underscored their commitment to Ukraine for “as long as it takes” with plans to pursue a price cap on Russian oil, raise tariffs on Russian goods and impose other new sanctions.
In addition, the US was preparing to announce the purchase of an advanced surface-to-air missile system for Kyiv.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Zelensky’s top request was for further air defense systems. Sullivan said most of the conversation was “about the way forward and how President Zelensky sees the course of the war.”
Zelensky also briefed the G7 leaders on how his administration has utilized the hundreds of billions of dollars in assistance he’s received to date ”to maximize Ukraine’s capacity both to resist Russian advances, and to pursue counter-attacks where possible,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan added that the Ukrainian leader was “very much focused on trying to ensure that Ukraine is in as advantageous a position on the battlefield as possible” in coming months because “he believes that a grinding conflict is not in the interest of the Ukrainian people.”
Zelensky also told the leaders that now is not a time for negotiation with Russia because he needs to be in stronger position first, according to a senior French diplomat.
The Ukrainian president said “he will negotiate when he will be in a position to do so,” said the diplomat.
“His goal is to end the war as quickly as possible and to get out of it in the best possible position, so that he can negotiate from a position of strength,” the diplomat said, adding that Zelensky told the summit leaders that he needs economic, financial and military support.
After hearing from Zelensky, the leaders underlined their “unwavering commitment to support the government and people of Ukraine” in the battle for their country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They said it is up to Ukraine to decide on a future peace settlement.
Leaders were finalizing the deal to seek a price cap during their three-day G7 summit. The details of how a price cap would work, as well as its impact on the Russian economy, were to be resolved by finance ministers, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview announcements from the summit.
Zelensky did not raise the issue of price caps, Sullivan said.
President Joe Biden is expected to soon announce the US is purchasing NASAMS, a Norwegian-developed anti-aircraft system, to provide medium- to long-range defense, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. NASAMS is the same system used by the U.S. to protect the sensitive airspace around the White House and US Capitol in Washington, DC.
Additional aid includes more ammunition for Ukrainian artillery, as well as counter-battery radars, to support its efforts against the Russian assault in the Donbas, the person said. Biden is also announcing a $7.5 billion commitment to help Ukraine’s government meet its expenses, as part of a drawdown of the $40 billion military and economic aid package he signed into law last month.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the summit host, said the G7 countries’ policies on Ukraine are “very much aligned,” and that they see the need to be both tough and cautious.
Scholz said after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday that “we are taking tough decisions, that we are also cautious, that we will help … Ukraine as much as possible but that we also avoid that there will be a big conflict between Russia and NATO.”
The chancellor added that “this is what is of essence — to be tough and thinking about the necessities of the time we are living in.”
Britain’s PM Boris Johnson said that under the circumstances the G7 has to “continue to help the Ukrainians to rebuild their economy, to get their grain out, to export their grain, and, of course, we have to help them to protect themselves. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Prior to his address to G7 leaders meeting in the resort of Schloss Elmaua, Zelensky had stressed the urgency of the need for more arms.
“Partners need to move faster if they are really partners, not observers. Delays with the weapons transfers to our state, any restrictions — this is actually an invitation for Russia to hit again and again,” he said in his latest daily message.
Sanctions have effectively cut Russia out of the global financial system but the war has created difficulties for countries way beyond Russia’s borders, with curtailed food and energy supplies hitting the global economy.
These also include Ukrainian grain exports, now trapped in ports, which normally feed millions of people across the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no sign of changing course as his troops battled to pick off another Ukrainian city.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on Monday Russian forces were using artillery to try to cut off Lysychansk from the south. Russian war planes had also struck near the city, the general staff said in its daily update.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said that Kremlin’s next target, Lysychansk, was suffering “catastrophic” damage from the shelling and he urged civilians to urgently evacuate.
“The situation in the city is very difficult,” Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Russian state’s TASS news agency on Sunday quoted an official from Moscow-backed separatists as saying Russian forces had entered Lysychansk from five directions and were isolating Ukrainian defenders.
In a setback for Ukraine, Russian forces won full control of Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk’s twin city on the eastern bank of the Siversky Donets River, over the weekend when Ukrainian troops pulled out after weeks of bombardments and street fighting.
Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk province make up Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region – the country’s industrial heartland.
The Donbas became a prime target for the Kremlin after Russian troops failed to take the capital Kyiv in the early stages of the war.
Russian forces also control a swathe of territory in the south, including the port city of Mariupol, which fell after weeks of siege warfare that left it in ruins.
Russian missiles also struck Kyiv for the first time in weeks on Sunday, killing at least one person and injuring several others, including a 7-year-old girl.
With Post Wires