© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian servicemen prepare a BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system to fire towards the positions of Russian troops, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the frontline town of Bakhmut, Ukraine May 19, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
(Reuters) -Russia and Ukraine gave conflicting accounts of the situation in Bakhmut on Sunday, with Kyiv saying it still controlled a small part of the besieged eastern city while Moscow congratulated the Wagner private army and Russian troops for “liberating” it.
* Ukrainian forces have partly encircled Bakhmut along the flanks and still control a part of the city, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said.
* Senior Ukrainian General Oleksandr Syrskyi said Kyiv’s forces controlled a small part of the devastated city, were advancing in the suburbs and weregetting closer to a “tactical encirclement” of the city.
* Russia claimed on Saturday to have fully captured Bakhmut, which would mark an end to the longest and bloodiest battle of the 15-month war and Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated troops and Wagner.
* Biden said the Russians had suffered over 100,000 casualties in Bakhmut.
* A Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region said Kyiv had struck the Russian-held port city of Berdyansk with British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
* Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.
DIPLOMACY AND ECONOMY
*Zelenskiy drew a parallel between the devastation of Bakhmut and the U.S. World War Two atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, evoking the symbolism of mass destruction as he wrapped up a surprise appearance at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Japan.
* Leaders of the world’s richest democracies at the summit said they would not back down from supporting Ukraine.
* Zelenskiy said he was confident that Kyiv would receive supplies of F-16 fighter jets from the West and Biden said he had received a “flat assurance” from Zelenskiy that Ukraine would not use them to go into Russian territory.
* Zelenskiy played down the fact he did not meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the sidelines of the G7 summit and said it was likely because of scheduling.
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