Joe Biden has insisted that Russian president Vladimir Putin “will not break our resolve” as he vowed in a speech at the G7 summit that America would show “unwavering” commitment to Ukraine.
Speaking on the last day of the summit in Japan, the US president called for “peace that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
He also said Volodymyr Zelensky had given the US a “flat assurance” that Ukraine would not use F-16 jets to attack Russian territory, after the US gave the green light for Western allies to hand over their F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv to bolster Ukraine’s defences.
“Russia started this war, and Russia can end it today by withdrawing its troops from internationally recognised borders,” Mr Biden said. “This morning I once more shared and assured president Zelensky that we will not waver. Putin will not break our resolve, as he thought he could two years ago, almost three years ago.”
It comes after President Biden announced a new package of military aid for Ukraine totalling $375m (£301m). The US president told President Zelensky that the US is doing all it can to strengthen Ukraine’s defences against Russian aggression.
The package includes ammunition, artillery, armoured vehicles and training. “Together with the entire G7, we have Ukraine’s back, and I promise we’re not going anywhere,” Mr Biden said.
Meanwhile, Mr Zelensky addressed the summit in Hiroshima to deny claims made by Mr Putin that Bakhmut, which has been the focus of a long-running bloody battle, had fallen into Russian control.
Mr Putin congratulated his troops after the leader of the Wagner mercenary group said on Saturday afternoon that its fighters had seized the key battle city – a claim quickly denied by Kyiv.
“Bakhmut is not occupied by Russian Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of those words,” Mr Zelensky said.
He also refused to be drawn on details of the counteroffensive Ukraine is said to be preparing to launch. He told reporters: “Russia will feel when we have a counteroffensive.”
G7 leaders have hailed the Ukrainian president’s presence at the summit, despite Ukraine not being a member of the G7.
British prime minister Rishi Sunak said Mr Zelensky’s attendance had a “historic significance” and delivered a “powerful message” to the Russian leader.
“We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, because their security is our security,” he added. “We must and we will show that violent territorial aggression does not reap rewards. There could be no more fitting place to discuss the urgent need for peace than Hiroshima.”
Mr Sunak also supported President Biden’s decision to train Ukrainian pilots and provide F-16 jets to Ukraine.
The prime minister said: “We’re supporting Ukraine to develop the air force it needs for the future, with the UK training Ukrainian pilots, starting this summer. And we’ve made a real breakthrough at this summit, thanks to President Biden’s support for an international coalition to provide F-16 jets.”