President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine grabbed the spotlight at the Group of 7 summit in Japan and won even more pledges for military aid, including training for Ukraine’s pilots on F-16 fighter jets. But at home this week he faces questions about the future of the eastern city of Bakhmut, the deadliest battle of the war.
Russia over the weekend claimed that it has captured Bakhmut, and if confirmed the outcome would be a powerful symbolic success for Moscow. It would represent the first Ukrainian city it has seized since Lysychansk last summer, and be a setback for Kyiv.
With Bakhmut mostly in ruins, the bigger question appears to be what happens next. Ukraine and Russia have been in a nearly yearlong battle over the now destroyed city, and there are signs that an end to that fight could bring some significant shifts to the battlefield.
Fresh from a weekend tour to meet with members of the Arab League and appearance at the G7 gathering in Hiroshima, Mr. Zelensky was confident that his outreach had helped Ukraine. “The world hears our position,” he said Sunday while he was aboard an airplane. It was not immediately clear when he was heading back to Ukraine.
Here are other possible developments we are keeping an eye on this week:
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin is scheduled to be in China on Tuesday and Wednesday for an official visit. The two sides will have “an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations, practical cooperation and issues of mutual interest,” according to China’s Foreign Ministry. The two countries have maintained close ties even as Beijing has cast itself as a neutral party in the war and criticized the United States and Europe for providing arms to Ukraine.
President Biden, who initially fought sending fighter jets to Ukraine for fear of escalating the conflict, has cleared the way for Ukrainian pilots to be trained on American-made F-16s and has said he is prepared to approve other countries’ transfers of the jets to Ukraine. It wasn’t clear exactly how or when that all would happen.