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Bakhmut echoes Hiroshima, says Zelenskyy in thanking G7 for F-16 fighters


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy drew a parallel between the horror of Hiroshima and the destruction of the city of Bakhmut during the Group of Seven summit in Japan on Sunday.

After Russia said it had full control of battle-scarred Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine – a claim Zelenskyy denied – the Ukrainian leader said it was unfair to compare Bakhmut to the first city to suffer a nuclear attack.

But speaking in Hiroshima, which hosted the three-day summit of leaders of the world’s seven largest economies, he said photos of the city where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945 “absolutely remind me Bakhmut and other similar towns”.

He said there was “absolutely nothing alive there, all the buildings are destroyed, you don’t even understand where a street is and where a building is. Absolute total destruction. Nothing, nobody. »

Today he said Hiroshima was “a modern city that seems alive, in terms of people and values”, adding that he believed the same would happen in Bakhmut and other cities and towns.

Zelenskyy was not expected to attend the summit in person, but after arriving on a French plane on Saturday dressed in his signature green military fatigues, he was warmly welcomed by the other leaders, including President Joe Biden, whom he met on Sunday.

He said Ukraine expected to receive “high quality weapons” from all G7 countries, which includes Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and United States.

“We will have the jets,” he said. “So far I can’t say how many of them, it’s no secret, I really don’t know yet.”

His comments came after the leader of Wagner’s mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose fighters led the costly Russian push for Bakhmut, claimed on Saturday that they had finally captured the town. The Russian Defense Ministry also said in a Telegram post that the “liberation” of the city was complete.

Disputing these claims, Zelenskyy said his forces were “standing strong” and “fighting thanks to the courage of our people and our warriors, and thanks to our intelligence”.

Moscow focused on seizing Bakhmut over the winter in hopes of a much-needed success that could also serve as a springboard to the rest of the surrounding industrial heartland known as Donbass.

Ukraine sought to wear down Russian forces by forcing a protracted fight that turned into the longest and bloodiest of the war, buying its army time to prepare a crucial counteroffensive.

On Sunday, Zelenskyy declined to provide details on where Ukraine would strike.

“Russia will feel when a counter-offensive takes place,” he said.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.