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Biden meets Zelensky at G-7, announces $375M aid package including ammunition, weaponry

President Biden escorts Volodymyr Zelensky to the Oval Office during the Ukrainian president’s high-stakes visit to Washington on Dec. 21.  (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
By Matt Viser,Tyler Pager,Niha Masih,Leo Sands and Ben Brasch

HIROSHIMA, Japan - President Biden unveiled a $375 million military assistance package for Ukraine at the Group of Seven summit on Sunday, the latest pledge from Washington of aid that totals $37 billion since Russia’s war began.

“Ukraine’s ability to defend itself is essential to being able to end this war permanently and through diplomacy,” Biden told a news conference in Hiroshima on Sunday. The package includes ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), antitank weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky rejected Russia’s recent claim that it captured Bakhmut after he had sparked some confusion when he said the eastern city was now “only in our hearts.” Speaking at a news conference Sunday, Zelensky clarified his earlier comments: “Bakhmut is not occupied by Russian Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of those words.”

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

G-7 in Japan

Bakhmut is “just dead and a lot of dead Russians,” Zelensky told reporters, lamenting the city’s destruction. “They came to us. Our defenders in Bakhmut, they did strong work, and of course we appreciate them” for their effort, he said. Russia claimed control of the eastern Ukrainian city on Saturday, but the Ukrainian armed forces said on Sunday that battles were continuing there.

The United States will support a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots to fly jet fighters, including the coveted F-16s, Biden said Sunday, under the understanding that Kyiv would not use the jets to escalate the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders. “I have a flat assurance from Zelensky that they will not, will not, use it to go into Russian geographic territory,” Biden told reporters.

Zelensky and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had their first face-to-face meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. India has been reluctant to join the Western coalition against Moscow’s invasion, ramping up its imports of Russian crude oil while other countries cut back. Zelensky also met the heads of state of Italy, France and Germany, he said in his nightly address, adding that his focus at the summit is to press for more weapons for Ukraine.

The leaders of G-7 nations are aiming for the “double containment” of Russia and China, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a televised conference Saturday, according to Reuters. A joint statement by the G-7 members - made up of United States, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada - called on China to help end the war in Ukraine and underlined China’s growing economic and military power.

Other key developments

- The International Criminal Court rebuked Russia’s move to add its top prosecutor to a wanted list. In a statement, it called the move “unjustified.” The court, which in March issued warrants for Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, said “coercive measures” will not deter it from ensuring accountability.

- German defense manufacturer Rheinmetall is looking to join hands with Ukrainian state-owned defense company Ukroboronprom to build German tanks, the company’s chief executive, Armin Papperger, told German newspaper Bild. The focus, he said, will remain on addressing Ukraine’s battlefield needs such as maintenance and repair before moving to manufacture armored vehicles.

- Russian forces killed one person and injured eight others in attacks across Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, its governor said on Telegram Sunday. Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said high-rise buildings, a hospital, a pharmacy, two shops and 16 private houses were damaged in the Russian attacks, which deployed missiles, artillery shells, airstrikes and rockets.

- About 70,000 Moldovans gathered in the capital Sunday to express their support for the country’s bid to join the European Union, speakers who addressed the demonstration said. The former Soviet Republic, which borders Ukraine and is governed by a pro-Western administration, has been subject to intensifying Russian pressure since the invasion of its neighbor. “Moldova’s place is undeniably within the EU,” President Maia Sandu tweeted.

The Washington Post’s Masih reported from Seoul and Sands from London.