Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told leaders at an Arab League summit on Friday that each would receive a 10-point peace plan, and asked them to work with Ukraine directly without intermediaries. .
He accused some Arab leaders of ignoring the horrors of Russia’s invasion of his country and urged everyone present to “take an honest look” at the war.
Zelenskyy said his surprise visit to Saudi Arabia was “to improve bilateral relations and Ukraine’s relations with the Arab world.”
Arab states have largely remained neutral in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with many maintaining close ties to Moscow. After his arrival, Zelenskyy said he will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and hold other bilateral talks.
Zelenskyy said his priorities for the visit were to “present our peace formula whose implementation should include as many states as possible.”
The crown prince has mediated the Russia-Ukraine conflict in the past.
Zelenskyy is traveling on a French government plane and is also expected to attend the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima, Japan, this week.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told state television that “important” decisions will be made at the G7 and it is “therefore the presence of our president that is very important to protect our interests. “
On Thursday, Ukrainian government official Ihor Dzhokova told Japanese news agency Kyodo that Zelenskyy “will carefully monitor the situation on the battlefield and then make a final decision” on whether he will attend or not.
Zelenskyy is also scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the summit, according to CNN-News 18. India, which maintains strong military ties with Russia, refrained from condemning Moscow’s invasion. .
Meanwhile, G7 leaders say they are making sure Ukraine has the budget support it needs for this year and early 2024.
“Today we are taking new steps to ensure that Russia’s illegal aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine fails and support the Ukrainian people in their quest for a just peace rooted in respect for international law ,” they said in a statement.
Here are some of the other notable developments regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine on Friday, May 19:
Russia said the defense minister was inspecting Ukrainian troops
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu “inspected the forward command post of one of the formations of the Vostok group of troops in the direction of Zaporizhzhia,” his ministry said in a statement.
It comes amid eyewitness reports that Russian forces are beefing up defensive positions in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Reuters news agency reports that new trenches have been dug around the town, and more mines have been laid.
Military analysts expect Ukraine to try to push Russian forces back into the Zaporizhzhia region during the much-talked about Spring counter-offensive.
President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed the Russian-held part of the Zaporizhzhia region and three other regions of Ukraine in September last year.
Ukraine says Russia is trying to recover lost land in Bakhmut
Russian forces are trying to regain lost territory near the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut. However, according to the Deputy Ukrainian Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said that the forces of Kyiv successfully repelled the attacks.
While Russian forces have made some progress inside the city, they have not yet achieved full control, and fighting continues, Maliar explained in televised remarks.
“It is very difficult to carry out combat missions there, and every meter (of advance) is like 10 kilometers in other conditions,” he said.
The head of the Russian mercenaries fighting in Bakhmut said the city is unlikely to fall in the next two days.
Bakhmut became the center of fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops.
New sanctions against Russia are expected by the G7
The announcements by the US and the UK of new sanctions against Moscow began early on Friday, while the summit of the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) began in Japan.
The British government said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would announce a ban on Russian diamonds and imports of metals from Russia, including copper, aluminum and nickel.
The G7 as a whole is expected to further tighten existing sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine and announce restrictions on multi-billion dollar exports of rough diamonds from Russia.
In fact, several media outlets quoted a senior US government official as saying that Washington had slapped on a new package of sanctions.
The US measures include cutting off about 70 companies from Russia and other countries from exporting to the US, according to the unnamed official, adding that 300 sanctions against individuals, entities, ship and plane will be announced.
The Pentagon overestimates the amount of military aid to Ukraine
A spokesperson for the US Department of Defense acknowledged that the Pentagon overestimated the value of the weapons it sent to Ukraine by at least $3 billion.
The accounting error could mean the department is able to send more weapons to Ukraine without asking Congress for more money.
It comes as lawmakers are pressing the Pentagon to show accountability for the billions of dollars it sends in military aid.
“During our regular process of overseeing the president’s drawdown packages, the department discovered inconsistencies in the valuation of equipment for Ukraine,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh.
“In some cases, ‘purchase cost’ is used rather than ‘net book value’, so the value of the equipment removed from US stocks is preferred,” he added.
Singh emphasized that the error did not hinder Washington’s ability to send aid to the battlefield.
Additional support will be critical for Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously said that a widely expected counteroffensive has been delayed because the military has not yet acquired everything it needs.
Air raid alerts were declared throughout Ukraine
Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine early Friday, and some regions reported explosions.
Officials said anti-aircraft units were operating in several regions. A day earlier, the Ukrainian military endured what it said was an “unprecedented” Russian air attack.
The military warned that there is a threat of strikes from hypersonic Kinzhal missiles to all regions of Ukraine.
Prigozhin says Bakhmut is ‘unlikely’ to fall soon; Zelenskyy praised the troops
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian Wagner mercenary group, said the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut “is unlikely” to fall to Russian forces in the coming days.
“Bakhmut is unlikely to be fully captured tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” Prigozhin wrote on Telegram early Friday.
Prigozhin added that heavy fighting continues in the city’s southwestern suburbs, which have seen the longest fighting since Russia’s war in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022.
“Bakhmut has not been taken. There is a suburb called ‘samolet.’ It is an impregnable fortress formed from various apartment blocks, located in the southwest of Bakhmut. The most difficult battles are going on now.”
The Wagner chief has repeatedly accused Moscow of not giving his forces enough ammunition to take the city, which he says his mercenaries will capture on May 9. Russia has firmly claimed of victory there after many failures in the war.
Prigozhin’s remarks came after Ukrainian and Russian officials said Kyiv troops had gained 1 kilometer near Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised his soldiers during his regular nightly speech.
“First, the defensive brigades have done a great job, they have fulfilled the most important strategic tasks,” he said in his evening video speech. “And the offensive brigades are doing a good job.”
Zelenskyy, however, refrained from giving any details about combat operations and further measures.
More DW coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine
The Ukrainian city of Nikopol, near the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, has come under repeated bombardment from Russian troops stationed at Enerhodar. Residents spoke to DW about their daily lives during the war.
fb/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)