Ukrainian security officials on May 19 said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to travel to Japan to attend a Group of Seven (G7) meeting as Russia continued to batter Ukrainian cities with air and missile attacks amid an apparent stalemate in the fierce fighting for control of the eastern city of Bakhmut.
Kyiv was again targeted by Iranian-made drones overnight — the 10th attack since the start of the month — but all of them were destroyed by the capital’s air defenses, Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kyiv military administration, said on May 19.
“With such tactics, the Kremlin is trying to exhaust our air defense, as well as to psychologically influence the civilian population,” Popko said.
Separately, Ukrainian air defense said on May 19 that it had shot down 16 drones and one cruise missile overnight, without specifying the location.
Explosions were also heard in the western city of Lviv and Kryviy Rih in the southeast. There were no immediate details, but Kryviy Rih Mayor Oleksandr Vilkul, who announced the explosions, urged the city’s inhabitants to take precautionary measures.
The latest attacks came as officials in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Kharkiv said on May 19 that three civilians were killed and 16 others were wounded by Russian shelling the previous day.
Two people were killed and nine more were wounded in Donetsk, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of Donetsk regional administration.
One man was killed and two were wounded in a rocket attack on a village in Kharkiv, regional Governor Oleh Synyehubov said.
On the diplomatic front, a senior Ukrainian official announced that Zelenskyy this weekend will attend the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, where fresh punitive measures against Russia are reportedly being considered.
“Very important things will be decided there and it is therefore the presence of our president that is absolutely essential in order to defend our interests,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told state television.
Zelenskyy will attend the gathering on May 21, the third and final day, according to two unnamed Ukrainian officials involved in the arrangements for the G7 quoted by Reuters.
Zelenskyy is on his way to the Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia, a source familiar with the meeting told Reuters, and will then travel on to the G7 meeting in Japan from the Saudi city of Jeddah on a French government plane.
On the battlefield, Russia carried out 39 missile strikes and 39 air strikes as well 50 salvoes from rocket systems across the Ukrainian front line over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian military said early on May 19.
The main battle front remains in and around the eastern city of Bakhmut, the epicenter of months of fierce fighting whose winner has yet to be decided.
“The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on the Lyman-Bakhmut-Avdiyivka-Maryinka front line, where 29 combat clashes took place over the past day. The hottest battles are being fought for Bakhmut and Maryinka,” Ukraine’s General Staff said in its early morning report on May 19.
In Washington, a Pentagon spokeswoman said that a Patriot missile-defense system damaged in a Russian air strike on Kyiv several days ago was repaired.
“What I can confirm is that one Patriot system was damaged, but it has now been fixed and is fully back and operational, Sabrina Singh told a news briefing.__VOA News