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Ukraine’s Zelensky arrives in Hiroshima to attend the G7 summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Japan on Saturday for talks with the leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies, a personal appearance meant to attract global attention as countries step up pressure on Moscow over its 15-month invasion of Ukraine.

Bolstering International support It is a key priority as Ukraine is seen as a major push to take back territory seized by Russia in the war that began in February last year. Zelensky’s Personal visit The G7 summit comes hours after the United States agreed to allow the training of powerful American-made fighter jets, laying the groundwork for their eventual transfer to Ukraine.

Host nation Japan said Zelensky’s inclusion stemmed from his “strong desire” to participate in talks with the bloc and other countries that would affect his country’s defense against Russia.

Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives in Hiroshima, Japan to attend the G7 Summit on May 20, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“Japan. G7. Important meeting with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and increased cooperation for our victory. Peace will be closer today,” Zelensky tweeted after his arrival on a plane provided by France.

G7 included Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Italy, as well as the European Union.

An EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity to reporters about the talks, said Zelensky would attend two separate sessions on Sunday. One session will be with and focused on G7 members only War in Ukraine. Another will include the G7 as well as other countries invited to attend the summit and will focus on “peace and stability”.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Presidents Biden and Zelensky will be directly involved in the summit. On Friday, Biden announced his support for Ukrainian pilots to train on Ukrainian-made F-16 fighter jets, a precursor to eventually delivering those planes to Ukraine.

“It is necessary to improve (Ukraine’s) air defense capabilities, including the training of our pilots,” Zelensky wrote on his official Telegram channel after meeting with Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, one of the few leaders he spoke with.

Zelensky also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their first face-to-face meeting since the war, and briefed him on Ukraine’s peace plan, which calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country before any talks.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Grushko accused Western countries of “continuing on the path of escalation” after the announcement raised the possibility of sending F-16s to Kiev.

The G7 pledged to intensify pressure in their joint statement on Saturday.

“Russia’s brutal war of aggression violates the basic norms, rules and principles of the international community and represents a threat to the entire world. We reaffirm our unwavering support to Ukraine for as long as it takes to bring about a comprehensive, just and lasting peace,” the group said.

G7 leaders face a balancing act in tackling a raft of global concerns demanding urgent attention, including climate change, AI, poverty and economic instability, nuclear proliferation and, above all, the war in Ukraine.

Following previous decisions to send rocket launcher systems and Abrams tanks, the green light for F-16 training is the latest move by the Biden administration as it continues to arm Ukraine with more advanced and lethal weapons. The US insists it is sending weapons to Ukraine in self-defense and discourages Ukrainian incursions into Russian territory.

“We’ve reached a point where it’s time to look down the road again to say what Ukraine will need as part of a future force to be able to resist and defend against Russian aggression as we go forward,” Sullivan said. .

Biden’s decisions on when, how many and who will deliver fourth-generation F-16 fighter jets will be made in the coming months during training, Biden told leaders.

G7 leaders have launched a new wave of global sanctions on Moscow as well as plans to increase the effectiveness of existing financial penalties to limit President Vladimir Putin’s war effort. Russia is now the most sanctioned country in the world, but there are questions about effectiveness.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticized the G-7 summit as aiming to isolate both China and Russia.

“The task is set loud and clear: to defeat Russia on the battlefield, but not to stop there, but to eliminate it as a geopolitical competitor. Indeed, any other country claims any kind of independent space. The world also wants to suppress the competitor. There will be alignment. Now look at the decisions being discussed and taken at the G-7 summit in Hiroshima and which are aimed at double control of Russia and China,” he said.

Russia attended several summits with seven other countries before being kicked out of the then-Group of Eight after annexing Crimea in 2014.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held separate one-on-one talks with leaders, including Modi, who is hosting the G-20 summit of world leaders later this year.

India, the world’s largest democracy, has been measured in its comments on the war in Ukraine and avoided direct condemnation of Russia’s aggression. While India maintains close ties with the United States and its Western allies, it is also a major buyer of Russian arms and oil.

The latest sanctions targeting Russia include stricter sanctions on already-sanctioned individuals and organizations involved in the war effort. More than 125 individuals and entities in 20 countries have been targeted by US sanctions.

Biden, who canceled plans to travel to Papua New Guinea and Australia after being in Japan so he could return to debt ceiling talks in Washington, is also meeting with leaders of the so-called Quad Partnership formed by Japan, Australia, India and the United States.

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