The Columbus Dispatch

Zelenskyy arrives in Japan for G7

Visit comes as world leaders sanction Russia

- Foster Klug, Adam Schreck and Josh Boak

HIROSHIMA, Japan – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived Saturday in Japan for talks with the leaders of the world’s most powerful democracie­s, a personal appearance meant to galvanize global attention as the nations ratcheted up pressure on Moscow for its 15-month invasion of Ukraine.

Bolstering internatio­nal support is a key priority as Ukraine prepares for what’s seen as a major push to take back territory seized by Russia in the war that began in February 2022. Zelenskyy’s inperson visit to the G7 summit comes just hours after the United States agreed to allow training on potent Americanma­de fighter jets, laying the groundwork for their eventual transfer to Ukraine.

Host nation Japan said Zelenskyy’s inclusion stems from his “strong wish” to participat­e in talks with the bloc and other countries that will influence his nation’s defense against Russia.

“Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced cooperatio­n for our victory. Peace will become closer today,” Zelenskyy tweeted upon his arrival on a plane provided by France.

A European Union official, speaking on condition of anonymity to brief reporters on the deliberati­ons, said Zelenskyy will take part in two separate sessions Sunday. One session will be with G7 members only and will focus on the war in Ukraine. Another will include the G7 as well as the other nations invited to take part in the summit, and will focus on “peace and stability.”

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that President Joe Biden and Zelenskyy would have direct engagement at the summit. On Friday, Biden announced his support for training Ukrainian pilots on U.s.-made F-16 fighter jets, a precursor to eventually providing those aircraft to Ukraine.

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

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

Russia’s deputy defense minister, Alexander Grushko, accused Western countries of “continuing along the path of escalation,” following the announceme­nts that raised the possibilit­y of sending F-16s to Kyiv.

The G7 vowed to intensify the pressure in its joint statement Saturday.

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

G7 leaders have faced a balancing act as they look to address a raft of global

worries demanding urgent attention, including climate change, AI, poverty and economic instabilit­y, nuclear proliferat­ion and, above all, the war in Ukraine.

China, the world’s No. 2 economy, sits at the nexus of many of those concerns.

There is increasing anxiety that Beijing, which has been steadily building up its nuclear weapons program, could try to seize Taiwan by force, sparking a wider conflict. China claims the self-governing island as its own and regularly sends ships and warplanes near it.

The G7 on Saturday said they did not want to harm China and were seeking “constructi­ve and stable relations” with Beijing, “recognizin­g the importance of engaging candidly with and expressing our concerns directly to China.”

They also urged China to pressure Russia to end the war in Ukraine and “support a comprehens­ive, just and lasting peace.”

North Korea, which has been testing missiles at a torrid pace, must completely abandon its nuclear bomb ambitions, “including any further nuclear tests or launches that use ballistic missile technology,” the leaders’ statement said.

The green light on F-16 training is the latest shift by the Biden administra­tion as it moves to arm Ukraine with more advanced and lethal weaponry, following earlier decisions to send rocket launcher systems and Abrams tanks. The United States has insisted that it is sending weapons to Ukraine to defend itself and has discourage­d attacks by Ukraine into Russian territory.

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

Biden’s decisions on when, how many, and who will provide the fourthgene­ration F-16 fighter jets will be made in the months ahead while the training is underway, Biden told leaders.

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

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida separately held one-on-one talks with leaders, including Modi, who is hosting the gathering of G20 world leaders later this year.

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

The latest sanctions aimed at Russia include tighter restrictio­ns on alreadysan­ctioned people and firms involved in the war effort. More than 125 individual­s and organizati­ons across 20 countries have been hit with U.S. sanctions.

The leaders began the summit with a visit to a peace park dedicated to the tens of thousands who died in the world’s first wartime atomic bomb detonation. Kishida, who represents Hiroshima in parliament, wants nuclear disarmamen­t to be a major focus of discussion­s.

 ?? LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES ?? Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, will take part in two separate sessions Sunday at the G7, an EU official said.
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, will take part in two separate sessions Sunday at the G7, an EU official said.

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