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Ukraine secured military aid, including advanced fighter jets, at the G-7 summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, following the conclusion of the G7 Summit Leaders' Meeting on May 21, 2023 in Hiroshima, Japan. The G7 summit will be held in Hiroshima from 19-22 May.
Yuichi Yamazaki
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, following the conclusion of the G7 Summit Leaders' Meeting on May 21, 2023 in Hiroshima, Japan. The G7 summit will be held in Hiroshima from 19-22 May.

A lot happened in the 24 hours that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended the G-7 summit this weekend.

In a rare and brief trip, Zelenskyy arrived in Hiroshima, Japan on Saturday to speak to world leaders about the progress in Ukraine and re-energize support from allies.

The meeting came at a crucial moment — Russia recently claimed victory over the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut where some of the deadliest fighting has taken place and Ukraine officials say they need more weapons in order to take back occupied land. Ukraine says its forces are still fighting and have not conceded.

The G-7 summit is an annual gathering among the world's richest and largest democracies — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — to address the most urgent international issues and coordinate on global policy.

Zelenskyy says the city of Bakhmut is completely destroyed

Zelenskyy's appearance on Sunday came less than a day after Russian forces claimed victory over Bakhmut -- a city in eastern Ukraine that has been under attack for 10 months. It is considered the longest and bloodiest battle in the war so far.

When asked whether Russia's claims are true, Zelenskyy said Bakhmut was completely destroyed and there was virtually nothing to occupy. He later compared it to the aftermath in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb dropped in 1945.

"You have to understand that there is nothing, they destroyed everything," Zelenskyy told G-7 leaders. "For today Bakhmut is only in our hearts."

Still, he emphasized that Ukrainian forces are still fighting in the city and have not conceded — despite what the Russians have said.

U.S. supports Ukraine's long-time request for F-16 jets

One of Zelenskyy's major goals in attending the G-7 summit was to secure more military aid for his country.

Ukraine has already received billions from Western allies. The U.S. alone has contributed about $37 billion to the conflict.

On Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden promised an additional $375 million in arms, including ammunition and armored vehicles.

Biden also came out in support of training Ukrainian pilots on American-made F-16 fighter jets — giving countries the green light to send those warplanes to Ukraine. The president said Zelenskyy assured him that Ukraine would not use the jets to strike targets inside Russia.

Ukrainian defense officials have called the aircraft a game changer and its been on the country's wish list since the start of the Russian invasion. The new aid comes as Ukraine prepares to kickoff counter-offensives to take back occupied land.

Zelenskyy attempted to win over India's president

The G-7 was an opportunity for Zelenskyy to reach out to world leaders who have been reluctant to denounce Russia, like India's prime minister Narendra Modi.

India has been one of the few countries to solidify its ties with Russia in the midst of the Ukraine war.

Not only has Modi refused to condemn the invasion, but he has been buying Russian oil and gas — undermining efforts by Western democracies to hurt Russia's economy through economic sanctions.

This weekend, Zelenskyy attempted to win over Modi. While the Indian prime minister promised he would do whatever he can to end the war, his attitude on the conflict appeared the same.

Still, Zelenskyy said he is determined to gain the support of Modi and leaders of other countries who have not overtly come out in support of Ukraine.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.
Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.