Zelenskiy meets G7 leaders as US plans to give air defence system to Ukraine
Surface-to-air system would meet one of key requests from Ukrainian president to counter Russian missiles.
The Ukrainian president has met G7 leaders via video as US government sources briefed that Washington plans to announce as soon as this week that it has bought a Norwegian advanced surface-to-air missile defence system for Ukraine.
The announcement of the Nasams purchase will meet one of the key requests from Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has been warning his key cities are defenceless against Russian missile strikes including those that rained down on the capital, Kyiv, on Sunday.
Zelenskiy’s meeting with the G7 leaders was not shown to the public – he could be seen on a television screen next to the round table where the leaders sat at the summit venue – but in his overnight address to the Ukrainian people he said the country needed a powerful, modern and fully effective air defence system that can ensure complete protection against such missiles. “We talk about this every day with our partners. There are already some agreements,” he said.
The air defence system will be one of many pledges of military support including artillery ammunition due to be given to Ukraine either at the German-chaired G7 summit in Bavaria, or at the subsequent Nato defence summit in Madrid.
Leaders of the G7 group of industrialised countries were meeting at Schloss Elmau deep in the peaceful Bavarian Alps, with Russia’s war against Ukraine at the top of the agenda. The leaders are committing to supporting Ukraine for the long haul at their summit, with help for Kyiv and further economic action against Russia under discussion.
A US official said G7 leaders were set to pursue a price cap on Moscow’s oil revenues and raise new tariffs on Russian goods.
The US missile defence briefings did not clarify when Ukraine would receive the system, the degree of training required and to what extent it would receive the corresponding missiles. The US has to balance the need to show its commitment to the Ukrainian cause with a degree of military secrecy.
The long awaited American Himars missile system is already on the Ukrainian frontline and being used to attack convoys of Russian equipment.
In his overnight address delivered before his video link-up to the G7, Zelenskiy called for more ammunition. “Partners should proceed more quickly if they are really our partners and not just observers … any restriction is in reality an invitation to Russia to strike again and again,” he said.
On Saturday alone, Ukraine claims 62 Russian rockets and missiles hit the country, including from the territory of Belarus.
Zelenskiy called on Belarus not to get drawn into the war. “You are not slaves and cannon fodder. You must not die,” he said in his nightly message to the Ukrainian people.
The southern port of Odesa was struck overnight and, hours before the G7 summit opened, Kyiv was hit by the first strike on the capital since early June in what was taken as a brutal message of defiance.
Boris Johnson has been sending out ever fiercer warnings in advance of the summit discussion on Ukraine that Putin is poised to get away with the annexation of the country. The UK prime minister has refrained from criticising Germany in public, pointing to the extent of the German psychological journey from one of near pacifism to a preparedness to provide weaponry to Ukraine.
The weekend fall of Sievierodonetsk after the city was reduced to rubble by airstrikes and artillery barrages appeared to make Johnson’s point that Putin making faster military progress towards his key objectives than at any point in the war.
Zelenskiy described the fall of Sievierodonetsk as a difficult day “morally and emotionally” for his country.
As the largest city that was still held by Ukraine in the Luhansk region it brings Moscow closer to its revised initial objective of taking the wider eastern area known as the Donbas.
The capture of Donbas, which comprises two oblasts, or regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, now depends on the capture of Lysychansk, the last Ukrainian city in Luhansk.
What is less clear and due for discussion at the G7 is the extent to which Putin is planning to continue his military assault on Ukraine. UK defence sources claim Russia is running low on weapons and remains reluctant to issue a general mobilisation, suggesting Putin is aware there is a limit to what Russia can achieve.
Ukraine’s general staff reported on 27 June that Russia had also lost 1,552 tanks, 3,687 armoured fighting vehicles, 771 artillery pieces, 243 multiple launch rocket systems, 9,139 surface-to-air missiles, 184 helicopters, 217 airplanes, 636 drones and 14 boats.
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