Key developments on May 15:
- Zelensky meets with Sunak, new defense aid from UK announced
- Sunak promises UK will be a "key part" of the "fighter jet coalition"
- Ukraine's military intelligence says around 152,000 Russian servicemembers preparing "defensive measures" in occupied Zaporizhzhia, Kherson oblasts
- Key proxy official injured in explosion in occupied Luhansk Oblast
- G7, EU plan stricter sanctions against Russia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky continued his European tour on May 15, arriving in the U.K. to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and discuss further defense aid for Ukraine.
Leading up to Zelensky and Sunak's meeting, the prime minister's office announced that the U.K. would be providing Ukraine with hundreds of air defense missiles and long-range attack drones with a range of over 200 kilometers, all of which will be delivered over the next few months.
"We must not let (Ukraine) down. The front lines of Putin’s war of aggression may be in Ukraine, but the fault lines stretch all over the world. It is in all our interest to ensure Ukraine succeeds and Putin’s barbarism is not rewarded," Sunak said.
Appealing to the West for more advanced fighter jets has remained one of the Zelensky administration's top priorities. During a press conference after their two-hour meeting, Sunak acknowledged that supplying Ukraine with fighter jets would be "not a straightforward thing," but he said that the U.K. would be "a key part of the coalition countries," providing such support.
The U.K. will also launch a new basic training program for Ukrainian pilots aimed at enabling them to operate aircraft that differ from the Soviet-era models they are more familiar with.
Russian troop and proxy unease in occupied territories
Ukraine's military intelligence reported on May 15 that around 152,000 Russian servicemembers in the occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts are attempting to fortify defensive measures by strengthening existing fortifications and building new ones.
Andriy Cherniak, a representative of Ukraine's military intelligence, said that the actions of Russian forces convey that they are aware they lack the resources to launch offensive measures.
"The only task before them is to maintain the positions they currently have. There is absolutely no question of any further offensive," Cherniak added.
Meanwhile, new explosions occurred in the occupied city of Luhansk. Russian state media reported that Igor Kornet, the so-called "acting interior minister" of Russia's proxies in Luhansk Oblast, sustained injuries following an explosion.
Proxy officials are calling the incident at a downtown barbershop an act of "sabotage," reportedly resulting in injuries to seven individuals.
Four of the individuals are now said to be in serious condition, including Kornet.
Ukrainska Pravda reported that one of their sources in law enforcement said that Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) was behind the explosion that targeted Kornet.
The agency hasn't responded to the accusation.
There have been multiple reports since the start of the full-scale invasion about fires, explosions, and other acts of sabotage within Russia and the Ukrainian territories occupied by Moscow.
Russian attacks continue in eastern, southern Ukraine
Russia continues to terrorize civilians in eastern Ukraine with daily attacks.
A missile strike on Avdiivka struck a hospital and killed four people, according to Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. Avdiivka has been targeted by attacks since Russia first invaded Donbas in 2014.
Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov also reported that two people were killed and one person was injured in the village of Dvorichna by Russian shelling.
Two men were also injured by shelling in the village of Lvove in Kherson Oblast, according to Governor Oleksandr Prokudin.
The city of Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast was once again targeted by heavy artillery fire, Governor Serhiy Lysak reported. As a result, a 14-year-old girl was hospitalized in stable condition with injuries. Two men are also being treated for less severe injuries.
G7, EU plan stricter sanctions against Russia
The Group of Seven (G7) countries and the European Union are devising more stringent sanctions to target Russian exports and third-party countries that assist Russia in circumventing existing sanctions.
Unnamed officials with direct knowledge of discussions told Reuters on May 15 that the planned sanctions "seek to undermine Russia's future energy production and curb trade that supports Russia's military."
The U.S. is also allegedly pushing for a broader ban on Russian goods "unless they are on a list of approved items."
The precise language of the sanctions is still being determined and is expected to be announced at the upcoming G7 summit in Japan on May 19-21.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that the EU's 11th sanctions package since the start of the full-scale invasion will likely expand the list of Russian goods that are banned from being transited through Russia.
It will also target countries that transport banned Russian goods, serving as "a warning" that the EU is "serious" about sanctions and could ban said goods from those third-party countries, von der Leyen added.