Hello and welcome back to our coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine, now in its 446th day. I’m Jordyn Beazley and here’s a look at the latest.
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries plan to tighten sanctions on Russia at their summit in Japan this week, with steps aimed at energy and exports aiding Moscow’s war effort, officials with direct knowledge of the discussions told the Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, France has announced dozens more light tanks and armoured vehicles for Ukraine’s army, together with training for the soldiers using them, after talks between the Ukrainian and French presidents in Paris. Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Emmanuel Macron also called for fresh sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The leaders’ joint statement also said Paris would focus its efforts “in supporting Ukraine’s air defence capacities”.
More on both stories soon. In other developments:
The two leaders’ comments came after Zelenskiy flew into France late on Sunday on a whistle-stop tour of Europe and joined Macron for a dinner at the Élysée Palace. Zelenskiy had tweeted earlier as he arrived in France at an airbase in Villacoublay, south-west of Paris: “With each visit, Ukraine’s defense and offensive capabilities are expanding.”
Zelenskiy thanked Germany for its support and what he called the largest military aid package since the beginning of Russia’s invasion as he met with president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in Berlin on Sunday. The trip came after the German government announced a new military package worth €2.7bn as Ukrainian forces prepare for a counteroffensive to reclaim territory captured by Russia.
During Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s visit to Germany, he was awarded the prestigious Charlemagne prize on behalf of the Ukrainian people in honour of services to Europe. The Ukrainian president received the award, which honours services to European unification, in the western city of Aachen with Olaf Scholz after their talks in Berlin.
Russia has said two of its military commanders were killed in eastern Ukraine, as Kyiv’s forces renewed efforts to break through Russian defences in the embattled city of Bakhmut. The Russian defence ministry said on Sunday that commander Vyacheslav Makarov of the 4th motorised rifle brigade and deputy commander Yevgeny Brovko from a separate unit were killed trying to repel Ukrainian attacks.
Russia has “already lost geopolitically” its war in Ukraine and is transforming into a vassal state of China, Emmanuel Macron has said. “De facto, it has entered a form of subservience with regards to China and has lost its access to the Baltic, which was critical, because it prompted the decision by Sweden and Finland to join Nato,” the French president said in an interview with Opinion newspaper published on Sunday.
Russian forces are much diminished since the start of the war, the UK Ministry of Defence has said, with troops consisting of mostly poorly trained mobilised reservists and increasingly reliant on antiquated equipment. Many of its units were severely under strength, it said.