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McCarthy faces debt limit deal revolt, Rosalynn Carter diagnosed with dementia: 5 Things podcast

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: McCarthy faces revolt over debt limit dealHouse Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces revolt over his debt limit deal with President Joe Biden. USA TODAY White House Correspondent Joey Garrison has the latest. Plus, USA TODAY Pentagon Correspondent Tom Vanden Brook talks about suspected Chinese spies at Alaskan military bases, the majority of American teachers think arming themselves with guns would make schools less safe, scientists and tech industry leaders issue a warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia.

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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Wednesday, the 31st of May 2023. Today, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces a revolt. Plus, we hear about suspected Chinese spies in Alaska, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia.

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing a revolt from the right flank of his party over his debt ceiling deal with President Joe Biden. And some Republican lawmakers say they wouldn’t rule out trying to oust him from the speakership. USA TODAY White House Correspondent Joey Garrison has the latest. Welcome back to 5 Things Joey.

Joey Garrison:

Hey, thanks Taylor. Thanks for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

Joey, who’s leading this charge and what issue do they take with the deal?

Joey Garrison:

Yeah, so the group we’re talking about, as you correctly described the right flank of the House Republican caucus. This is largely comprised of the House Freedom Caucus members. There’s about 45 of them and many of them are aligned with former President Trump and are relatively new to Congress. Many have been elected in the last two or three election cycles.

Now, heading into the debt ceiling negotiation between McCarthy and Biden, we always knew that several of these wouldn’t vote for any compromise reached by the two. And that’s remained the case, but I think it’s more widespread among that caucus than the opposition than some predicted. They believe McCarthy didn’t go far enough to reach this type of spending cuts that they hope to see in a deal that raises the debt ceiling. And they believe, and this is significant, that McCarthy betrayed his commitment to several of them. If you rewind back in January when McCarthy was having difficulty to get the members of his own party to vote for his speakership, several of these House Freedom Caucus members got certain commitments from McCarthy to ensure he had the votes. One of those is what they call a “power-sharing agreement,” where they would have more say of some of these individual members in deals reached by McCarthy. They say he effectively breached that agreement.

Taylor Wilson:

So Joey, what’s this mean for today’s critical vote on the debt ceiling?

Joey Garrison:

Well, the opposition from the members of the House Freedom Caucus isn’t enough by itself to defeat today the vote on the debt ceiling deal. But there’s also been considerable unrest from progressive Democrats on the deal for expanded work requirements, for food stamp and other benefits of federal aid, as well as over its overhaul to expedite permitting process for oil and gas projects. So, if you start thinking about all the no votes that could happen here, if you have the far right flank and several on the left, that means really both McCarthy and Biden are going to have to pass this from the middle from both the Republican and Democratic side. Ultimately, I do think the votes are going to be there, but I’m sure heading into this vote, McCarthy and Biden are both nervous.

Taylor Wilson:

And even beyond the debt sailing issue, you touched on some of this, but it seems like this issue has recast McCarthy’s future as speaker, at least in some sections of the party. We know he already initially had trouble getting the votes for the speakership earlier this year. What’s next Joey, for him and these power dynamics in the chamber?

Joey Garrison:

Well, among the agreements reached between McCarthy and some of these hardline Republicans to secure his speakership was a new rule that it only takes one member to propose ousting the speaker for that to get taken up. Of course, you’d still have to have a majority of votes in the House for any ouster of McCarthy of his speakership, but it really raises the level in the consequences of just having these disgruntled Republican House members. And so, one of those members, Dan Bishop from North Carolina, he became the first member on Tuesday to actually say he’s considering a push to oust McCarthy over the debt ceiling deal.

Scott Perry, the Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, he is part of a group of other Freedom Caucus members who had a press conference outside the capital on Tuesday. He wouldn’t rule out pursuing an ouster if this bill ends up passing. So, really McCarthy’s future could very much be at stake if this bill does go through. McCarthy has always had a rocky relationship from the beginning of his short time as speaker with this pretty sizable faction of the Republican Party. And this certainly, even if the debt ceiling bill passes, isn’t going away. In fact, passage of this could probably make that friction even worse for him moving forward.

Taylor Wilson:

All right, Joey Garrison, always great insight for us from Washington. Thanks as always.

Joey Garrison:

Yeah, thanks Taylor.

Taylor Wilson:

US officials say that Chinese citizens posing as tourists have been trying to access military bases in Alaska, and they’re suspected of spying. I spoke with USA TODAY Pentagon Correspondent Tom Vanden Brook to learn more. Thanks for hopping on the podcast, Tom.

Tom Vanden Brook:

Sure thing, Taylor.

Taylor Wilson:

So you wrote about a series of incidents involving Chinese citizens posing as tourists, but suspected of being spies in Alaska. Why do US officials have these suspicions, Tom?

Tom Vanden Brook:

Well, there have been a string of incidents at bases in Alaska in which Chinese tourists have shown up at gates or actually run past security. They claim to have been tourists who are lost. Well, there are a lot of tourists, in fact in Alaska, and many of them are Chinese. But as one officer told me, not all tourists are tourists. And one of the reasons they suspect more is in one case a vehicle blew past a security checkpoint at Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks, and when it was stopped, they found a drone in the car. So, there’s this suspicion that a lot of these incidents are probing security to see where there are weaknesses, but also to see if there are ways to surveil the base from the inside. And this has happened before in other places, including Florida.

Taylor Wilson:

And Tom, why is Alaska such a place of interest?

Tom Vanden Brook:

There are a lot of very sensitive military sites in Alaska. The army bases, the interceptors that people may have heard about that are supposed to take down incoming ballistic missiles from North Korea, the military bases, some of its most sophisticated planes are there and radars. It’s where the Chinese spy balloon of all things entered US airspace back in January.

Taylor Wilson:

And Tom, what’s being done about these incidents and about some of these concerns? And I’m also curious in hearing from US officials and speaking with them, how do they weigh these concerns of Chinese spying with the privacy rights and other rights of Chinese Americans and Chinese citizens who are visiting the country and are just tourists?

Sure. Right. Some of these incidents are probably benign and they have to be aware of that and they’re not publicizing a lot of this stuff, you can say that as well. All of this stuff that I learned was from sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. And as I understand it, a lot of the information about these incidents remains classified. So, there’s not a ton we can know about it, but there are certainly benign reasons for people to visit Alaska. It’s a beautiful place. I was just there last week. But, I was told by the Pentagon’s number two official that intrusions in general are taken very seriously by the military, and they’re doing a lot to beef up security at some of these bases, including in Alaska. I talked to an official there who said that previously it’d been fairly lax there because it had been considered something of a backwater for the military until recent years when they’ve started basing more troops there and more sophisticated aircraft.

Taylor Wilson:

Can you put in perspective for us where US-China relations are right now kind of writ large, and where the officials you speak with feel these tensions will go next?

Tom Vanden Brook:

To start out with not great. The relations aren’t really good right now and we can cite a few different things, right? We had the Chinese spy balloon, which transited the entire width of the United States and maneuvered over sensitive military bases. We know that. It was filled with surveillance equipment before it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina. So that’s one incident. We know that tensions are rising over Taiwan, which receives billions in US military aid. China wants to reunite it with the mainland. So, that’s another friction point. And then finally, you’ve got China’s support, if not materially, but in terms of moral support for Russia and its invasion of Ukraine. So, there’s some real friction. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his scheduled trip to Beijing last February after the Chinese spy balloon incident, and that hasn’t been rescheduled, so tensions remain very high.

Taylor Wilson:

All right, USA TODAY Pentagon Correspondent Tom Vanden Brook, thanks as always.

Tom Vanden Brook:

Thanks Taylor.

Taylor Wilson:

The majority of American teachers think arming themselves with guns would make schools less safe. That’s according to a newly released survey from the nonpartisan RAND Corporation. In the survey, 54% thought schools would be made less safe if teachers could carry. And another 26% said they didn’t think it would make a difference in school safety. Only about one in five said they felt schools would be safer if teachers were allowed to be armed.

Race and location played a factor in teachers’ views. White teachers were more likely than Black teachers to say they thought teacher carry policies would make schools safer. And teachers in rural areas were also broadly more likely to feel that way. Still, school shootings were far from teachers’ top safety concerns. Only 5% felt that was a top safety issue, while 49% believed it was bullying. And 25% said drugs. It’s already legal for teachers to carry guns on school campuses, often needing special permissions in at least 27 states, according to the Giffords Law Center.

Scientists and tech industry leaders issued a new warning yesterday about the dangers that artificial intelligence could bring to humankind. The statement read, “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

Those who signed the statement included high level executives at Microsoft and Google, according to the AP. Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT maker OpenAI, and Geoffrey Hinton, a computer scientist known as the godfather of artificial intelligence, also signed the statement. More than a thousand researchers and technologists signed a longer letter earlier this year calling for a six-month pause on AI development, saying it poses profound risks to society and humanity. Concerns about AI systems outsmarting humans, eliminating jobs and more, have crept up with the latest generation of chatbots. And countries around the world are trying to decide how to regulate them in the years to come.

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia. Her family made the announcement yesterday, a diagnosis that comes as her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, is receiving hospice care. The family said in a statement that they hope sharing the news will increase difficult conversations about dementia. The Carters are the longest married first couple in US history. Rosalyn has worked as an advocate for mental healthcare at the Carter Center, the humanitarian organization the couple founded in the 1980s that’s also behind global peace and health programs. The Carters also volunteered for decades with Habitat for Humanity, a Christian nonprofit that works to build homes.

Yesterday’s announcement of Rosalynn’s dementia led to a wave of support. The White House said the Bidens have stayed in touch with the Carters’ team, telling them they’re in the President and First Lady’s thoughts. And Senator Raphael Warnock, also from Georgia like the Carters, said he’s praying for them.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. If you like the show, please subscribe and leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. And if you have any comments, you can reach us at [email protected]. I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

Scientists generate ‘electricity from thin air.’ Humidity could be a boundless source of energy, they say.

Sure, we all complain about the humidity on a sweltering summer day. But it turns out that same humidity could be a source of clean, pollution-free energy, according to a new study.

“Air humidity is a vast, sustainable reservoir of energy that, unlike solar and wind, is continuously available,” said the study, which was published recently in the journal Advanced Materials.

“This is very exciting,” said Xiaomeng Liu, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the paper’s lead author. “We are opening up a wide door for harvesting clean electricity from thin air.”

In fact, researchers say that nearly any material can be turned into a device that continuously harvests electricity from humidity in the air.

Air ‘contains an enormous amount of electricity’

“The air contains an enormous amount of electricity,” said Jun Yao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the paper’s senior author. “Think of a cloud, which is nothing more than a mass of water droplets. Each of those droplets contains a charge, and when conditions are right, the cloud can produce a lightning bolt – but we don’t know how to reliably capture electricity from lightning.

“What we’ve done is to create a human-built, small-scale cloud that produces electricity for us predictably and continuously so that we can harvest it.”

The heart of the man-made cloud depends on what Yao and his colleagues refer to as an air-powered generator, or the “air-gen” effect for short.

Clean energy record:More than 40% of US electricity now comes from carbon-free sources

‘Significant implications for the future of renewable energy’

The new study builds upon research from a study published in 2020. That year, scientists said this new technology “could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and in the future of medicine.” That study indicated that energy was able to be pulled from humidity by material that came from bacteria; the new study finds that almost any material, like silicon or wood, could also be used.

Clouds glide over Los Angeles, Wednesday, June 22, 2022. In the new study, scientists say that "What we’ve done is to create a human-built, small-scale cloud that produces electricity for us predictably and continuously so that we can harvest it.”

The device that’s mentioned in the study is the size of a fingernail and thinner than a single hair, and is dotted with tiny holes known as nanopores, the Washington Post reported. “The holes have a diameter smaller than 100 nanometers, or less than a thousandth of the width of a strand of human hair,” the Post said.

What is green energy?:What to know about renewable, clean power like solar and wind energy

Power from air could be harvested 24/7, rain or shine, night or day

Additionally, according to a statement from the university, since humidity is ever-present, the harvester would run 24/7, rain or shine, at night and whether or not the wind blows, which solves one of the major problems of technologies like wind or solar, which only work under certain conditions.

“The work opens a wide door for the broad exploration of sustainable electricity from air,” the study said.

Yao told the Washington Post that roughly 1 billion air-gens, stacked to be roughly the size of a refrigerator, could produce a kilowatt and partly power a home in ideal conditions.

“Imagine a future world in which clean electricity is available anywhere you go,” said Yao. “The generic air-gen effect means that this future world can become a reality.”

GOP hardliners are furious, Democrats play coy: What to know ahead of the House debt ceiling vote

Republican Kevin McCarthy’s razor-thin speakership faces its biggest test since he grabbed the gavel in January as his debt deal with President Joe Biden comes up for a vote Wednesday.

McCarthy and the president came to an agreement during an hour-and-a-half phone call just days before the United States ran out of money to pay its bills.

The plan raises how much the government can borrow until 2025, which was Biden’s top priority during talks with Republican leaders. It also freezes annual discretionary, non-defense spending for two years while delivering $2.1 trillion in other domestic spending cuts GOP lawmakers wanted.

“Republicans are changing the culture and trajectory of Washington—and we’re just getting started,” the speaker said in a Memorial Day tweet.

But not so fast, Mr. Speaker.

Any victory lap is contingent upon getting the Biden-McCarthy deal through a thorny Republican caucus filled with conservative lawmakers who have fealty to slashing government spending.

And there’s no guarantee progressive Democrats, who held a conference call Monday to discuss the plan, will back up Biden either. Liberals are likely to raise objections to parts of the deal such as expanding work requirements for some aid programs, keeping the Trump-era tax cuts and speeding up a natural gas pipeline project in Appalachia.

Here are three things to know ahead of Wednesday’s debt ceiling vote in the House.

Biden, GOP leaders like the deal

The president was all smiles and good vibes coming out of his phone call with McCarthy, and he exuded optimism Monday when asked if lawmakers would adopt the agreement

“I feel very good about it,” Biden told reporters outside the White House on Monday. “I spoke to a whole bunch of people, and it feels good”

Biden would like nothing more than to end what’s been a headache of negotiations that has brought the nation to the brink of default and economic disaster. If the deal passes, this means he won’t have to deal with the debt headache until after the 2024 presidential campaign.


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks as he meets with President Joe Biden to discuss the debt limit in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, May 22, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ORG XMIT: DCAB417

But importantly, Biden will likely brag about saving domestic programs − from rental aid and scientific research − from House Republicans who wanted to make deeper cuts.

Besides keeping the same funding levels for the federal budget, the deal also spares Social Security and Medicare, which was a sticking point for the president during his State of the Union address earlier this year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., rushed to defend the Biden-McCarthy plan within hours of its announcement in the hopes of giving the speaker cover. McConnell said it “makes urgent progress toward preserving our nation’s full faith and credit and a much-needed step toward getting its financial house in order.”

Conservative victories − but GOP House hardliners are furious

McCarthy’s allies in the House are telling reporters the deal will “absolutely pass” because it holds so many Republican victories.

Among the most obvious is that the deal claws back billions in unspent COVID-19 relief funding, yanks $10 billion in IRS funding and limits how long able-bodied adults 54 years old or younger without dependent children can receive food stamps if they do not meet certain work requirements.

May 30, 2023; Washington, DC, USA; Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry, (R-PA), right, along with Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), center, organize before the start of a House Freedom Caucus press conference outside of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, May 30, 2023 opposing the current debt ceiling agreement negotiated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

“The deal on the debt limit is full of conservative wins,” South Dakota Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson, who leads the Main Street Caucus, tweeted.

Many GOP members are likely to echo Johnson, who argues that, by forcing Democrats to find money in the existing budget, most conservatives will support the plan.

Yet some fiscal hawks expressed their dismay publicly and have described McCarthy as a traitor to their cause.

“After I heard about the debt ceiling deal, I was a no,” Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, a Republican who challenged McCarthy for the speaker’s gavel, said in a May 29 tweet. “After reading the debt ceiling deal, I am absolutely no!!”

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who was one of the key votes needed for McCarthy to win the speakership, said the deal gives Biden and the Democrats a “free pass on defending their reckless spending” ahead of the 2024 campaign.

“This deal must be rejected,” he said.

On Tuesday, members of the House Freedom Caucus assembled outside Capitol Hill to denounce the plan, saying McCarthy failed.

But other conservative members who are equally known for their unwavering views expressed support for McCarthy’s agreement with the president.

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, a fierce GOP fiscal hawk, praised it for including parts of his so-called “penny plan” that requires a cut to 1% of spending across the board if Congress doesn’t pass appropriations bills.

“I respect opposition to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, but I am voting yes,” Massie said in a tweet late Tuesday evening. “I’ve been in Congress for a decade and this is the first real bill that cuts spending. “

Congressional Democrats are playing coy, for now

With the spotlight on McCarthy and his caucus, the Biden administration is quietly calling House Democrats to win their votes.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., joined by fellow Democrats, speaks with reporters about the political brinksmanship over the debt ceiling negotiations, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, May 25, 2023. Democrats have balked at Republican efforts to tighten work requirements for social safety net programs. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ORG XMIT: DCSA120

There’s little for House Democrats to celebrate in this proposal, but the charm offensive appears to be working in the sense that it has kept progressive lawmakers from speaking against the deal at the same volume as their right-wing colleagues.

Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, of California, said liberal-leaning members are “in flux” about whether they will support the plan. But leading up to Wednesday’s vote he took a swipe at the deal.

“The debt deal is cutting food stamps (and) social programs while we have an affordability crisis,” Khanna, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted Tuesday.

The congressman’s message linked to a 2022 survey by the Federal Reserve, which found about 37% of Americans said they don’t have enough money to cover a $400 emergency.

“It is not ‘extreme’ to speak up for low income Americans,” he said.

Other Democrats such as Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri said, as someone who once received food stamps, she is leaning against the deal, describing the work requirement as “racist, classist and inhumane.”

Limiting Democratic unrest will be critical for the White House given the growing number of House Republicans slamming the McCarthy-Biden deal, which might have to use Democrats as a crutch to save the bill.

Zelensky denies the fall of Bakhmut: spokesperson

PREVIEW Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denies claims that the city of Bakhmut has fallen to Russian forces, his spokesperson Sergiy Nykyforov said Sunday.

“I think no,” Zelensky told reporters, when asked both whether he thinks the city is still in Kyiv’s control and about claims Russia captured the city. 

His office later clarified to CNN the president was referring to Russian claims to have taken the city.

“The president has denied Bakhmut has been taken over,” Nykyforov said.

“There is nothing. They destroyed everything. There are no buildings. It’s a pity, it’s a tragedy, but for today Bakhmut is only in our hearts,” Zelensky said, speaking alongside US President Joe Biden in Hiroshima ahead of a one-on-one meeting.

Zelensky thanked the Ukrainian “defenders” of Bakhmut, saying “we appreciate them for their great job.”

Zelensky thanks Biden for new aid package

Zelensky and Biden shake hands in Hiroshima on Sunday.
Zelensky and Biden shake hands in Hiroshima on Sunday. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked President Biden Sunday for the “powerful” financial assistance provided by the US, which totals $37 billion, and for the new military assistance package, according to a readout from the president’s office.

“A huge gratitude from our people. I am glad that we have such strong relations,” Zelensky said, adding, “We discussed further cooperation to bolster the defense capabilities of our country.”

Biden earlier announced the military assistance package, worth $375 million, which includes include ammunition, artillery and vehicles, as he met with Zelensky in Japan at the G7 summit in Japan.

“The United States continues to do all we can to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defend itself,” Biden said, citing his recent decision to allow F16 fighter jets to go to Ukraine and to train Ukrainian pilots on the aircraft in the United States.

Biden said new sanctions on Russia would “ensure that we keep pressure on Putin to hold his backers accountable.”

G7 strives to bring ‘just and lasting peace’ to Ukraine as soon as possible, says Japanese PM

The Group of Seven nations strives to bring “just and lasting peace to Ukraine as soon as possible,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Sunday, following talks between G7 leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Hiroshima.

Kishida said the summit was held in the midst of “challenges to principles that our predecessors had forged and defended over the years,” including respect for sovereignties and territorial integrity, and that inviting Zelensky showed the “unwavering solidarity” between the G7 and Ukraine.

The Japanese prime minister, who hosted the event, also highlighted the multiple crises facing the global community, including climate change and the pandemic, as well as the impacts of the war in Ukraine.

“If we do not show a willingness to listen to the voices of countries and people and cooperate on a wide range of urgent issues, our claim to uphold a free and open international order based on the rule of law could become futile,” Kishida said in his remarks.

Kishida also highlighted an action plan endorsed by G7 leaders to work toward global nuclear disarmament.

The document, known as the Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament, is of “historical significance,” Kishida said.

Ukrainian forces continue to hold areas of Bakhmut, Armed Forces spokesperson says

An armored infantry carrier is seen driving to the front line south of Bakhmut on May 17,
An armored infantry carrier is seen driving to the front line south of Bakhmut on May 17, Vincenzo Circosta/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ukraine’s Armed Forces (AFU) said Sunday it continues to hold a number of buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, after Russia’s Wagner group claimed to have taken the city Saturday.

“We have strong holds in the southwestern part of the city. Our units are in the city. We continue efforts to counterattack the enemy,” Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces told CNN.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar also reiterated Sunday that Ukrainian forces were holding the defense, posting on Telegram that the “enemy failed to encircle and they lost some of the dominant heights around the city.”

She said Ukrainian forces were still making advances in the suburbs around the city, which “makes it very difficult for the enemy to remain in Bakhmut.”

“Our defenders retain control over industrial and infrastructure facilities and the private sector of Bakhmut in the ‘Airplane’ district,” Maliar said.

CNN cannot independently verify these battlefield claims.

“We dream of peace after our victory,” Zelensky tells G7

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said what he has seen in Hiroshima, Japan, is similar to “the ruins of [Ukrainian] cities which have been burned to the ground by Russian bombs and artillery.”

Speaking during a news conference at the Group of Seven (G7) summit on Sunday, he said Hiroshima is now a rebuilt city and Ukrainians “dream of rebuilding all our cities that are now in ruins, and every village where not a single house is left intact after Russian strikes.”

“We dream of returning our territories, just as we have regained our northern territories which were occupied by Russia. We must regain our eastern and southern territories of Ukraine.

“We dream of returning our people who are now in Russian captivity. These are prisoners of war and civilians, deported adults and also abducted children. We dream of winning, we dream of peace after our victory,” Zelensky said.

Some context: G7 talks culminated Sunday with a series of dramatic, in-person appeals from Zelensky as he pressed leaders gathered in Japan to remain united against Russian aggression.

Zelensky’s decision to travel halfway across the world to deliver his entreaties to the world’s major industrial democracies in person underscored both the unity and the uncertainty leaders find themselves in fourteen months since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine began.

“Our soldiers are in Bakhmut,” Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has again denied that Bakhmut is occupied by Russia, saying Ukrainian soldiers remain in the city.

“We are keeping on, we are fighting,” Zelensky said at a news conference at the G7 in Japan.

“I clearly understand what is happening in Bakhmut. I can’t share the tactics of the military, but a country even bigger than ours cannot defeat us. A little time will pass and we will be winning. Today our soldiers are in Bakhmut. I will not share the locations,” Zelensky said.

“Bakhmut is not occupied by Russian Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of those words,” he added.

There are conflicting reports about who controls Bakhmut and CNN is unable to independently verify battlefield claims.

Zelensky’s comments come after Russia’s Wagner mercenary group on Saturday claimed to have finally taken the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the scene of bitter fighting for months.

Hiroshima reminds me of Bakhmut, Zelensky tells G7

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the pictures of ruined Hiroshima he saw on his visit to the Japanese city “really remind” him of the embattled eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, and other similar settlements or towns.

“Just the same, nothing alive left, all of the buildings have been ruined,” Zelensky said at a news conference.

The city, which Ukraine denies Russia controls, has seen some of the most brutal fighting of the conflict.