Zelenskiy calls on G7 leaders to help end war in Ukraine by winter. Source: The Guardian

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Zelenskiy calls on G7 leaders to help end war in Ukraine by winter

President speaks to leaders via video link, as US confirms proposed cap on Russian oil price and plans to send air defence system

Volodymyr Zelenskiy is seen on video addressing G7 leaders during their working session in the Bavarian Alps on Monday

Volodymyr Zelenskiy is seen on video addressing G7 leaders during their working session in the Bavarian Alps on Monday. Photograph: Reuters

Patrick Wintour in Elmau Mon 27 Jun 2022 16.14 BSTFirst published on Mon 27 Jun 2022 10.21 BST

  • The Ukrainian president, Voldymyr Zelenskiy, has urged G7 leaders gathered in Germany to help end the war in Ukraine by the winter as they planned new economic measures against Russia and vowed to “stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes”.

A six-page communique from the group of seven industrialised countries the US, UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy – said it was “committed to helping Ukraine to end Russia’s war […] to defend itself and to choose its future”. It said it would provide materials, training, logistics, intelligence and economic support.

Leaders of the G7 met Zelenskiy via video in a closed-door session as they gathered in Schloss Elmau, deep in the Bavarian Alps.

Zelenskiy told the leaders not to let the conflict in his country “drag on over winter”, adding: “If Ukraine wins, you all win.”

And in a sign he was not willing to back down and accept a peace deal that gave up swathes of Ukraine to Russia, the president said: “We will only negotiate from a position of strength.”

Zelenskiy said it was important for Ukraine that there was a coherent position of the G7 countries on sanctions, saying: “These must be further strengthened by limiting the price of oil exported by the aggressor.”

French sources said Zelenskiy was seeking armaments “so that Ukraine can contain the advance of Russia and push the Russians beyond the February lines”.

US officials confirmed G7 leaders were discussing the idea of placing a cap on the price of Russian oil, adding that the US had managed to extract a commitment that the proposals would be examined in greater depth. Germany is sceptical that the plan is workable, but it would reduce the revenue reached the Russian treasury and cut the price of oil for western consumers.

A senior White House official said the proposal was for a “mechanism that sets a worldwide ceiling for Russian oil”.

US government sources briefed that Washington planned to announce as soon as this week that it has bought a Norwegian advanced surface-to-air missile defence system for Ukraine, meeting one of the key requests from Zelenskiy, who has been warning that his key cities are defenceless against Russian missile strikes, including those that rained down on the capital, Kyiv, on Sunday.

In tough language calling for a Russian withdrawal, the G7 communique said: “We reiterate our demand that Russia put an end to this war of choice, and immediately, unconditionally cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.”

It said it was up to Ukraine to decide on a future peace settlement, free from external pressure or influence, but that the group stood ready to support an international reconstruction plan, drawn up and implemented by Ukraine in coordination with partners.

On sanctions, it said: “We are determined to reduce Russia’s revenues, including those from gold. We will continue our targeted use of coordinated sanctions for as long as necessary, acting in unison at every stage.”

Promising no impunity for war crimes, it called on Russia to “immediately allow the safe return of Ukrainian nationals taken often with force to Russia without their consent”.

The proposed air defence system will be one of many pledges of military support, including artillery ammunition due to be given to Ukraine either at the German-chaired G7 summit in Bavaria, or at the subsequent Nato defence summit in Madrid.

In his overnight address delivered before his video linkup to the G7, Zelenskiy called for more ammunition. “Partners should proceed more quickly if they are really our partners and not just observers … any restriction is in reality an invitation to Russia to strike again and again,” he said.

On Saturday alone, Ukraine claims 62 Russian rockets and missiles hit the country, including from the territory of Belarus. The southern port of Odesa was struck overnight and, hours before the G7 summit opened, Kyiv was hit by the first strike on the capital since early June, in what was taken as a brutal message of defiance.

The US missile defence briefings did not clarify when Ukraine would receive the system, the degree of training required and to what extent it would receive the corresponding missiles. The US has to balance the need to show its commitment to the Ukrainian cause with a degree of military secrecy.

The long-awaited American Himars missile system is already on the Ukrainian frontline and being used to attack convoys of Russian equipment.

Boris Johnson has been sending out ever fiercer warnings in advance of the summit discussion on Ukraine that Putin is poised to get away with the annexation of the country. The UK prime minister has refrained from criticising Germany in public, pointing to the extent of the German psychological journey from one of near pacifism to a preparedness to provide weaponry to Ukraine.

The weekend fall of Sievierodonetsk after the city was reduced to rubble by airstrikes and artillery barrages appeared to make Johnson’s point that Putin was making faster military progress towards his key objectives than at any point in the war.

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Zelenskiy described the fall of Sievierodonetsk as a difficult day “morally and emotionally” for his country.

As the largest city that was still held by Ukraine in the Luhansk oblast, it brings Moscow closer to its revised initial objective of taking the wider eastern area known as the Donbas.

The capture of Donbas, which comprises two oblasts, Donetsk and Luhansk, now depends on the capture of Lysychansk, the last Ukrainian city in Luhansk.

What is less clear and due for discussion at the G7 is the extent to which Putin is planning to continue his military assault on Ukraine. UK defence sources claim Russia is running low on weapons and remains reluctant to issue a general mobilisation, suggesting Putin is aware there is a limit to what Russia can achieve.

Ukraine’s general staff reported on 27 June that Russia had also lost 1,552 tanks, 3,687 armoured fighting vehicles, 771 artillery pieces, 243 multiple launch rocket systems, 9,139 surface-to-air missiles, 184 helicopters, 217 airplanes, 636 drones and 14 boats.

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