Hiroshima – World leaders were meeting at the G7 summit in Hiroshima on Friday as it was confirmed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would travel to Japan to meet with them in person on Saturday. Zelenskyy had previously been scheduled to address the G7 by video.
“We were sure that our president would be where Ukraine needed him, in any part of the world, to solve the issue of stability of our country,” the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov said on Ukrainian television Friday, the Associated Press reported. “There will be very important matters decided there, so physical presence is a crucial thing to defend our interests.”
In Japan, Zelenskyy will be making his case to a sympathetic crowd. The war in Ukraine is at the top of the agenda for the summit.
“We, the Leaders of the G7, reaffirmed our commitment to stand together against Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine,” the group said in a statement released Friday. “We urge Russia to stop its ongoing aggression and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops and military equipment from the entire internationally recognized territory of Ukraine. Russia started this war and can end this war.”
Leaders said they had ensured Ukraine would have the budget it needs to continue its fight through 2023 and into early 2024. They also outlined a plan for new sanctions to “starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine,” and said they would focus on closing loopholes in sanctions that are already in place.
“We reiterate our call on third parties to immediately cease providing material support to Russia’s aggression, or face severe costs,” Friday’s statement said.
Zelenskyy’s scheduled appearance in Japan, the farthest distance he has traveled from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, underlines Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent threats to use nuclear weapons there. On Friday, he made an appearance in Saudi Arabia where he addressed a summit of Arab leaders.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said the timing was critical.
“The Ukrainians have said they want to go on the offensive,” Kirby said. “We all have to make sure that they have all the support that they need to do that.”
The United Kingdom and Europe are working on sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, despite fears that the American-made flyers may escalate the conflict. The U.S. is also leading the effort to choke off money and equipment flowing to Russia.