Ukrainian official confirms Zelenskiy’s personal appearance at G7

We now have official confirmation of Zelenskiy’s planned personal visit to the G7.

Zelenskiy will travel to Japan for a G7 summit in Hiroshima, a Ukrainian security official told state television on Friday.

“Very important things will be decided there and that is why the presence of our president is absolutely necessary to defend our interests,” said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

Key events

Roman Starovoytgovernor of Kursk region of Russia, has written to Telegram to claim that “Korenevsky district shelled by the armed forces of Ukraine.”

He said that “a total of eight arrivals were counted. Power lines and the fence of the electrical substation were damaged.”

The claims have not been independently verified. The Kursk region borders Ukraine and is located north of Sumy.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has tweeted about the latest installment of sanctions against Russia, saying “Putin will pay the price for his illegal invasion of Ukraine”.

Putin will pay the price for his illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Today we are increasing economic pressure – cracking down on Russia’s theft of Ukrainian grain and the remaining sources of revenue that support its military machine.

— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) May 19, 2023

Russia’s state news agency Tass reports that Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigutoday inspected a forward command post in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine. Tass reports:

The ministry noted that Shoigu heard reports from the commander of the Vostok group and headquarters officers. They reported on the current situation, the nature of the enemy’s actions and the performance of combat missions by the Russian troops in the most important tactical areas.

“At the headquarters of the grouping of troops, the Russian Minister of Defense held a meeting with the commander of the grouping, where he noted the high efficiency in identifying and destroying military equipment and concentrations of enemy personnel in the main directions of the grouping,” the Defense Ministry added.

Zaporizhzhia is one of the partially occupied regions of Ukraine that the Russian Federation claims to have annexed.

In recent days, Wagner has the leader of the mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhinhad suggested Shoigu visit Bakhmutwhich was widely perceived as a challenge to the authority of the Minister of Defence.

The G7 has made a statement ahead of its summit in Hiroshima, Japan. It said:

We, the leaders of the G7, reaffirmed our commitment to stand together against Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine. We condemn, in the strongest terms, Russia’s flagrant violation of the UN Charter and the impact of Russia’s war on the rest of the world.

15 months of Russia’s aggression have cost thousands of lives, inflicted enormous suffering on the people of Ukraine and hampered access to food and energy for many of the world’s most vulnerable people. We express our full sympathy and condolences to the Ukrainian people for their loss and suffering.

We salute the Ukrainian people for their courageous resistance. Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not tire of our commitment to mitigate the impact of Russia’s illegal actions on the rest of the world.

Russian forces are trying to retake land they have lost around the eastern Ukrainian city Bakhmutbut Kiev’s forces repulse the attacks, Deputy Ukrainian Defense Minister Hanna Maliar claimed on Friday.

Russian forces have gained ground inside the city itself but they do not control it and fighting rages on, Reuters Maliar reports in televised commentary.

It has been impossible for journalists to independently verify the fighting situation on the ground, in the city that has been hotly contested for months.

Zelenskiy will attend the Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia – reports

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy is heading to the Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia, a source familiar with the meeting told Reuters.

Zelenskiy will then travel on to the G7 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan from the Saudi city of Jeddah on a French government plane, the source told Reuters.

Reuters has a quick snap to say that the Russian government has announced to the Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustinvisits China on May 23-24 where he meets the Chinese President, Xi Jinping.

Anton Gerashchenkoa former Ministry of the Interior i Ukraine and an adviser to the Kiev government, has described yesterday as “another massive Russian attack on Ukraine”. In a tweet, Gerashchenko said:

Another massive Russian attack on Ukraine last night. (The) tenth Russian air attack on Kiev in 19 days in May. Another sleepless night for many of us.

The air force shot down 16 drones and three Kalibr cruise missiles. There has been damage in several Ukrainian regions. A 64-year-old woman was seriously injured. (The) terrorist state is trying to exhaust Ukrainian air defense and Ukrainian people.

Another massive Russian attack on Ukraine last night. Tenth Russian air attack on Kiev in the 19 days of May. Another sleepless night for many of us.

Air defense shot down 16 drones and 3 Kalibr cruise missiles. There have been injuries in several Ukrainian regions, a 64-year-old…

— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) May 19, 2023

Maksym Kozytskyigovernor of Lviv, has written to Telegram to say that five drones were shot down overnight above the western Ukrainian region. He warned residents to note air warnings, saying “this is the best help for our defenders”. He said “there are no casualties or injuries in our region”.

UK formally announces new sanctions against Russia

IN a statement the British government has said it has imposed “a new wave of sanctions against Russia, targeting companies and individuals linked to Russia’s ability to finance and wage the war”.

The announcement includes 86 individuals and organizations that the government says are “connected to Russia’s energy, metals, defense, transport and financial sectors”. It claims this will increase “pressure on Putin’s remaining revenues and attempts to use these sectors to support the military machine”.

Russian military forces have strengthened defensive positions in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the south Ukraine in recent weeks, four witnesses have told Reuters.

New trenches have been dug around the city and more mines have been laid. Surveillance cameras at the facility point north across a wide reservoir toward Ukrainian-controlled territory.

The Russians have had firing positions set up on top of some of the facility’s buildings for several months. Nets have also been set up as a possible deterrent to drones, according to the reports.

The actions were described by two Ukrainians who work at the power plant and two other residents of the town of Enerhodar who spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears for their safety in a town under Russian occupation.

Petro Kotinthe head of Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom, told Reuters he did not believe Ukrainian forces would stage an attack directly on the site, but instead could try to force the Russians to withdraw by cutting supply lines.

Russia seized the power plant in the first days of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and has held it ever since.

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today. My colleague Martin Belam will bring you the latest from Ukraine (and the G7 in Japan) for the next moment.

The British Ministry of Defense has some analysis of what yesterday’s train derailment near Simferopol means Russia.

Rail services were suspended between Simferopol, capital of the Crimean peninsula, and the city of Sevastopol after a freight train carrying grain derailed, the region’s Russian-installed leader said on Thursday. The derailment was caused by “interference by outsiders,” Crimean Railways said.

The Defense Ministry says Russia “will move to repair the line quickly, but the incident will disrupt supplies and potentially also weapons, such as Kalibr cruise missiles, to the BSF (Black Sea Fleet).”

And that: “Any sabotage in this sensitive area will further increase the Kremlin’s concerns about its ability to protect other key infrastructure in Crimea. The peninsula retains an important psychological and logistical role in enabling Russia’s war into Ukraine.”

Ukrainian air defenses destroyed 19 drones and missiles out of 28 launched on Friday morning, the Ukrainian military said.

“Three Kalibr missiles were fired from the Black Sea and 16 drones were shot down. Shelling continues on an almost daily basis,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told Ukrainian television.

“Not all targets were hit,” he added.