Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, May 14, 2023 (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)
EA on Times Radio: Week in Review — UK’s Nasty Politics, Turkey’s Election, Zelenskiy in Europe, and White Supremacy in the US
Sunday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy in Germany
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1856 GMT:
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Vladimir Putin, effectively confirmed on Monday that four Russian military aircraft were shot down over Russia last weekend near the borders of Ukraine and Belarus.
State media quoted Lukashenko as he toured an airbase, “Three days after the events near us – I mean in the Bryansk region, when four aircraft were shot down. We are forced to respond. Since then, our troops have been on high alert.”
Russian outlet Kommersant reported on Saturday that a raiding party of an Su-34 fighter-bomber, an Su-35 fighter, and two Mi-8 helicopters were downed in an ambush near Klintsy in Russia’s Bryansk region.
UPDATE 1401 GMT:
The Russian proxy Interior Minister for the “Luhansk People’s Republic”, in occupied eastern Ukraine, has been seriously injured in an explosion.
Igor Kornet was wounded when a grenade exploded in a hairdressing salon in the center of Luhansk city.
Leonid Pasechnik, the Russian proxy leader in occupied Luhansk, posted:
Seven people were injured. All the wounded were hospitalised in medical institutions of the republic. Four men are in serious condition, including a 17-year-old, as well as Acting Minister of Internal Affairs Igor Kornet. Doctors are fighting for the lives of the victims.
Five people were injured in an explosion in the center of Luhansk. pic.twitter.com/hWvr3zkVmy
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 15, 2023
UPDATE 1242 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he discussed the provision of warplanes to Kyiv — “a coalition of jets” — with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
He told reporters, “Soon you will hear some, I think, very important decisions but we have to work a little bit more on it.”
Sunak made no commitments in his statement, “Another topic of conversation we’ve had today is about the security arrangements we should put in place among allied countries for Ukraine for the long term to ensure it can defend itself and provide effective deterrence against future Russian aggression.”
He continued, “It is not a straightforward thing as Volodymyr and I have been discussing to build up that fighter combat aircraft capability. It’s not just the provision of planes, it is also the training of pilots and all the logistics that go alongside that, and the UK can play a big part in that.”
The UK Government confirmed earlier that basic training for Ukrainian pilots will start this summer: “[This] goes hand in hand with UK efforts to work with other countries on providing [US-made] F-16 jets –– Ukraine’s fighter jets of choice.”
Sunak’s spokesperson said that “there are no plans” to deliver fighter jets: “The Ukrainians made the decision to train their pilots on F-16s and you will know the RAF [Royal Air Force] don’t use those.”
UPDATE 1008 GMT:
A Russian missile strike has hit a hospital and killed four civilians in Avdiivka in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
UPDATE 0909 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has arrived at Chequers, the residence of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Buckinghamshire:
Welcome back, @ZelenskyyUa 🇬🇧🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/ph57ZoUHpC
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) May 15, 2023
UPDATE 0755 GMT:
The latest Russian shelling of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine has killed six civilians and injured three.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said seven people were wounded by Russian attacks across the region in eastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours.
UPDATE 0722 GMT:
As Volodymyr Zelenskiy travels to London, the UK Government says it will send hundreds of long-range attack drones to Ukraine.
The drones have a range of more than 200 km (125 miles). They complement Britain’s confirmation last week that it will supply Storm Shadow missiles, with a range of 155 miles, to Kyiv ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russian occupiers.
The UK says it has obtained guarantees that the missiles will not be used on targets inside Russia.
The Government also said it is sending hundreds of air defense missiles to bolster Ukraine against Russian strikes.
UPDATE 0643 GMT:
The leader of Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, offered to reveal the position of Russian conventional troops to the Ukraine Government, according to leaked US intelligence documents.
Prigozhin, in a running battle for influence with the Russian Defense Ministry, supposedly made the offer through Ukraine’s intelligence service in late January. If the Ukrainians withdrew from Bakhmut — the frontline city in the Donetsk region under “human wave” assault by Wagner since November — then Prigozhin would give details of Russian conventional deployments.
Two Ukrainian officials confirmed that Prigozhin has spoken several times to the Ukrainian intelligence agency HUR. One said the offer regarding Bakhmut was extended more than once, but Kyiv rejected it because officials do not trust the Wagner leader.
A US official said there were similar doubts in Washington.
In the past week, a Ukrainian counter-attack has liberated areas to the north and south of Bakhmut, threatening the Wagner fighters who hold more than 80% of the city.
See also Ukraine War, Day 444: Russian Retreat Near Bakhmut Confirmed
The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, said on Monday:
The advance of our troops along the Bakhmut direction — that is the first successful offensive operation in the city’s defense.
The last few days have shown that we can move forward and destroy the enemy even in such extremely difficult conditions.
UPDATE 0612 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodmyr Zelenskiy has announced the next stop on his European tour.
Today – London. The UK is a leader when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air. This cooperation will continue today. I will meet my friend Rishi. We will conduct substantive negotiations face-to-face and in delegations.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 15, 2023
Zelenskiy travelled to Finland, the newest member of NATO, two weeks ago. He was in Italy on Saturday, then Germany and France on Sunday.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodmyr Zelenskiy has continued his European tour for political and military support, moving from Germany to France on Sunday night.
Soon after completing discussions with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, Zelenskiy travelled to Paris for a dinner meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
France pledged dozens of additional light tanks and armored vehicles for Ukraine, as well as training for Kyiv’s troops.
This evening, with President Zelensky, we took stock of Ukraine's operational needs to face Russia's aggression.
France will continue to provide political, financial, humanitarian and military support to the Ukrainians as long as it takes.…
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 14, 2023
Earlier, Zelenskiy had anticipated the announcement.
Paris. With each visit, Ukraine's defense and offensive capabilities are expanding. The ties with Europe are getting stronger, and the pressure on Russia is growing. I will have a meeting with my friend Emanuel and we will talk through the most important points of bilateral…
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 14, 2023
In Germany, at a joint press conference along Scholz, Zelenskiy said, “Now is the time for us to determine the end of the war this year. We can make the aggressor’s defeat irreversible.”
He also had a message which could be applied to Macron, who has pursued face-to-face diplomacy — immediately before Russia’s invasion with Vladimir Putin and last month in Beijing with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Zelenskiy said Ukraine will discuss peace initiatives by other states, but “the war is happening on the territory of our country and so any peace plan will be based on Ukraine’s proposals”.
The President expressed gratitude for Germany’s commitment to a €2.7 billion military aid package which includes 20 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 30 Leopard 1 tanks, 15 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, 200 reconnaissance drones, four IRIS-T anti-aircraft systems, artillery ammunition, and more than 200 armored combat and logistics vehicles.
Already in Berlin. Weapons. Powerful package. Air defense. Reconstruction. EU. NATO. Security.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 13, 2023
En route to Berlin, Zelenskiy stopped in Aachen, where he received the Charlemagne Prize on behalf of the Ukrainian people in honor of services to Europe.