Ukraine war latest: Russia's Wagner group claims full control of Bakhmut - Ukraine says 'fighting still going on' (2023)

Key points
  • Zelenskyy lands in Japan for talks with G7 leaders after US approves sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine
  • G7 to announce more sanctions against Russia at Japan summit
  • Russia says F-16 supplies to Ukraine would carry 'colossal' risks for West
  • Russia's Prigozhin claims full control of Bakhmut
  • Zelenskyy's visit to Japan is a 'game changer', Macron says
  • G7 reveals worries over China's role in supply chains
  • Russia 'adds ICC prosecutor who sought Putin's arrest to wanted list'
  • Your questions answered: Is Ukraine's counteroffensive Kyiv's last hope of winning the war?
  • Got a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by Samuel Osborne (now) and Lucia Binding (earlier)


Pope asks Italian cardinal to carry out Ukraine war peace mission

Pope Francis has asked Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the head of the Italian bishops' conference, to carry out a peace mission to try to help bring an end to the Ukraine war, the Vatican has said.

The pontiff first spoke of his intention to launch a mission when he was returning from a trip to Hungary last month, but gave no further details.

"There is a mission in course now but it is not yet public.When it is public, I will reveal it," he said.

The Vatican said Mr Zuppi, 67, would carryout the mission in accordance with the Vatican's Secretariat ofState, "to contribute to reducing tensions of the conflict inUkraine, in the hope, never given up by the Holy Father, thatthis could start peace processes".

It said the timing and specifics of the mission were still being worked out.


Zelenskyy invites India to join Ukraine's peace initiative

Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had invited India to join Ukraine's peace formula initiative during his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Japan.

Mr Zelenskyy said the two had discussed Ukraine's need for mobile hospitals and removing land mines during their first face-to-face meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.

Mr Modi told Mr Zelenskyy he was keen to help and said for him thewar was an issue of humanity and human values.

"I assure you that for its resolution India, and Ipersonally will do everything within our means," he said.

New Delhi and Moscow have enjoyed a close relationship for decades and India has refused to condemn Russia for its war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile its trade with Moscow has risen to record levels, driven largely by India increasing its imports of Russian oil, leading several Western leaders to criticise India for its close ties with Russia as they try to isolate Moscow.


ICC member states say Russia placing British prosecutor on wanted list is 'deplorable'

The member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have said Russia placing one of its prosecutors and several judges on a wanted list is deeply concerning and deplorable.

British prosecutor Karim Khan prepared a warrant for Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges in March.

He was added to the Russian Interior Ministry's wanted list, state-owned news agency TASS said, citing the ministry's database.

Moscow opened cases against Mr Khan and three ICC judges on 20 March, days after the order for Mr Putin's arrest.


'We are adding strength to Ukraine': Zelenskyy on G7 summit

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has tweeted a video clip of his visit to the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, today.

The Ukrainian leader said he held talks with several of the G7 leaders including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron, telling his followers: "We are adding strength to Ukraine".

Mr Zelenskyy arrived in Hiroshima earlier today to attend diplomatic talks with the leaders of the world's most powerful democracies as they tighten sanctions meant to punish Moscow over its 15-month invasion of Ukraine - and received a warm welcome from them all.

Mr Macron was among those to show him support, telling him:"France has been from the very beginning shoulder toshoulder with you. We will be here to the very end."


Zelenskyy attends meetings with Scholz and Macron at G7 summit

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was pictured attending separate meetings with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron during the G7 leaders' summit in Hiroshima today.

Mr Zelenskyy subsequently thanked Mr Scholz "for the powerful defence assistance Ukraine receives from Germany" in a tweet.

Following his talk with Mr Macron, he tweeted: "France's support for the fighter jet coalition and its participation in the training mission to train Ukrainian pilots is important."


Brazil's Lula tells Macron he would meet Zelenskyy in Hiroshima - report

Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva has told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that he would meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy while in Hiroshima, a French presidential source told reporters.

There had been some speculation the Brazilian leader might
not meet with the Ukrainian leader on the sidelines of the G7summit in the Japanese city.

Lula has previously called for a ceasefire and proposed a club of nations including Brazil to mediate peace.

At the same time, he has refused to provide weapons to Ukraine, made comments ascribing some blame to Ukraine for Russia's invasion and said the US and Europe are stimulating the fighting.

His remarks have been criticised by all those parties, as well as raised questions about Brazil's impartiality in any eventual peace talks.


China complains to G7 host Japan over joint statement - as Russia's Lavrov also weighs in

China has firmly opposed the G7 joint statement out of Hiroshima and has complained to summit organiser Japan, the Chinese foreign ministry said today.

The ministry said that the G7 had disregarded China's concerns and attacked it, as well as interfered in its internal affairs, including Taiwan, the ministry said in a statement.

China has expressed its strong dissatisfaction and has lodged stern representations with summit host Japan, the statement added.

There was more criticism for the G7 leaders' stance from Russia, with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov saying that decisions at their summit in Japan were aimed at the "double containment" of Russia and China.

The G7 nations have expressed concerns over Beijing tensions, and outlined a shared approach towards China, looking to "de-risk, not decouple" economic engagement with a country regarded as the factory of the world.

The heads of the world's leading democracies said they were prepared to build "constructive and stable" relations with Beijing while reducingtheir dependence on trade with the world's second-largest economy.

"Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China, we do not seek to thwart China's economic progress and development," they said in a communique issued on the second day of the three day summit.


Why sending F-16s to Ukraine will be a 'major concern' for Putin

Military analyst and former fast jet pilot Sean Bell has said the US and its allies sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine will be of "major concern" for Vladimir Putin.

Commenting on the move, Mr Bell said that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been asking for fast jets for "the past year" and that the Russian Air Force is "larger and better equipped than Ukraine", which leaves the nation "vulnerable".

"But, even if Ukraine was to be gifted a squadron of F-16s, that would not provide credible or capable combat air capability," he said.

Mr Bell said Ukraine needs trained pilots and logistic support, plus a spectrum of support capability, which all takes time and is "very expensive".

Why F-16 jets?

Mr Bell said that the F-16 Fighting Falcon is a "compact multi-role fighter that is "capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground roles" and is the most widely exported fast jet in the world.

In the EU alone, Belgium, Denmark and Norway had 125 F-16s, but they are gradually being replaced by the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Meanwhile, 24 Dutch F-16s are due to be retired shortly, while Norway retired 64 of the jets last year - which all might provide a pool of aircraft for Ukraine, Mr Bell explained.

The jets are also US manufactured - so US permission is required before any nation can send them to Ukraine.

He added that the news will be a "major concern" for Mr Putin, as the Russian president had hoped that Western appetite for the conflict would wane at the year's end.

"But F-16s are a multi-year commitment," he said.


Russia's Prigozhin claims full control of Bakhmut - Ukraine says 'situation is critical'

The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has claimed full control of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut today.

The eastern Ukraine city has been the focus of the longest andbloodiest battle of the war.

Mr Prigozhin made the claim in a video while wearing combat fatigues in front of a line of fighters holding Russian flags and Wagner banners.

"Today, at 12 noon, Bakhmut was completely taken," he said.

He added that his forces would withdraw from Bakhmut from 25 May for rest and retraining.

"We completely took the whole city, from house to house," he said.

Distant explosions could be heard in the background as Mr Prigozhin spoke during the video.

Ukrainian military has denied the claim.

Serhiy Cherevatyy, spokesperson of the Joint Forces of Ukraine told Sky News: "This is not true. Fighting is going on in the city."

On the heavy fighting in Bakhmut, Ukraine's deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said Ukrainian troops were maintaining a defence inthe southwestern part of the city.

"Heavy fighting in Bakhmut. The situation is critical," shesaid on the Telegram messaging app. "As of now, our defenderscontrol some industrial and infrastructure facilities in thearea and the private sector."

Mr Prigozhin taunted Mr Zelenskyy and US President Joe Biden, who were taking part in a G7 summit in Japan today.

Addressing Mr Zelenskyy, Mr Prigozhin said: "Today when you seeBiden, kiss him on the top of his head, say hi to him from me."


Pictures from the G7 summit in Japan

Below are some pictures of the day so far as the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, gets underway.

Pictured are the leaders of the Group of Seven nations; Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US President Joe Biden and Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

They were photographed walking before the Atomic Bomb Dome during a visit to the Peace Memorial Park this morning, while another picture shows Mr Macron and Mr Biden in close conversation, and the last image shows Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attending a meeting with the group.

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