G7 ends with Ukraine in focus as Zelenskyy meets allies

HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with some of his biggest supporters as the Group of Seven summit concluded in Hiroshima on Sunday, bolstering his country’s and Russia’s war efforts won a battlefield victory that was quickly contested by Ukraine.

The Personal appearance of the Ukrainian leader In his trademark olive green, he underlined the central importance of the war for the G7 bloc of rich democracies. It has also drawn much attention to other priorities, including security challenges in Asia public relations in developing countrieson which the heads of state and government focused during the three-day meeting.

Hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was committed to “strong support for Ukraine from all possible dimensions”.

Zelenskyy held two major meetings on Sunday, one with G7 leaders and a second with them and a number of invited guests including India and South Korea. He also spoke one-on-one with several executives.

Russia’s claim that Wagner’s private army forces and Russian troops had captured the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut hung over talks on Sunday. The eight-month struggle for the eastern city – regarded by both sides as a great symbolic prize – was the longest and probably the bloodiest of the war.

Comments by Zelenskyy earlier in the day in English indicated that the Russians had finally taken the city. But he and other Ukrainian officials later questioned that assessment when Zelenskyy told reporters in Ukrainian that “To date, Bakhmut is not occupied by the Russian Federation.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a news conference following the G7 summit of leaders in Hiroshima May 21, 2023.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a news conference following the G7 summit of leaders in Hiroshima May 21, 2023.

Louise Delmotte/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

US President Joe Biden announced new US$375 million in military aid to Ukraine, saying the US would provide ammunition and armored vehicles. That commitment came after the US agreed to allow training on US-made F-16 fighter jets, laying the groundwork for their eventual transfer to Ukraine.

“We have Ukraine’s back and we’re not going anywhere,” Biden said.

Even before Zelenskyy landed on Saturday, the G7 had unveiled a series of new sanctions and other measures to punish Moscow for its invasion, which began in February last year.

While Ukraine dominated the summit, leaders of Japan, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Canada and Italy, and the European Union also wanted to address global concerns about climate change, poverty, economic instability and nuclear proliferation .

And Biden tried They assure world leaders that the US will not default because of the debt ceiling stalemate, which has cast a huge shadow over his journey.

Two US allies – South Korea and Japan – further efforts to improve relations marked by ongoing anger over issues related to Japan’s brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945. Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited a memorial to Korean victimsmany of them slave labourers, the atomic bombing of August 6, 1945.

Washington wants the two neighbors, both liberal democracies and bulwarks of US power in the region, to stand together on issues from Russia to North Korea.

Biden, Yoon and Kishida met briefly as a group in front of the summit site off Hiroshima Bay. Biden invited the two leaders to Washington for a trilateral meeting, and they accepted, said a US official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

At a meeting with Zelenskyy, Yoon promised to provide Ukraine with South Korean demining equipment and ambulances.

Zelenskyi also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the summit, for the first face-to-face meeting since the war. He informed him about Ukraine’s peace plan, which envisages the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country before any negotiations.

India, the world’s largest democracy and a major buyer of Russian arms and oil, has avoided direct condemnation of the Russian invasion.

“Zelenskyj’s presence puts some pressure on G7 leaders to deliver more — or to explain to him directly why they can’t,” said Matthew Goodman, an economics expert at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington .

The G7 have vowed to step up pressure on Russia, calling its attack on Ukraine “a threat to the whole world that violates fundamental norms, rules and principles of the international community.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday condemned the G7 as “fixated on a full-scale confrontation with Russia… Leaders of the G7 countries brought the head of the Kiev regime they control to their meeting, ultimately turning the Hiroshima event into a crisis .” a propaganda show.”

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference following the G7 summit of leaders in Hiroshima May 21, 2023.
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference following the G7 summit of leaders in Hiroshima May 21, 2023.

Kiyoshi Ota/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The group took a different approach in its comments on China, the world’s second largest economy. The leaders said they did not want to harm China and aimed for “constructive and stable relations” with Beijing.

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

“We don’t want to decouple from China, we want to reduce risk and diversify,” Biden said.

He also pledged to help Taiwan defend itself against a possible Chinese attack and said the US and its allies agreed that “if China acted unilaterally, there would be a reaction.”

For its part, China’s foreign ministry called on G7 members “to focus on solving the various problems they have at home, stop forming exclusive blocs, and stop containing and beating other countries.”

The G7 also warned North Korea, which has been testing missiles at a rapid pace, against abandoning its nuclear weapons ambitions entirely, “including any further nuclear tests or launches involving the use of ballistic missile technology.”

G7 leaders have launched a new wave of global sanctions against Russia, which is now the world’s most sanctioned country, and unveiled plans to increase the effectiveness of existing financial sanctions in curbing President Vladimir Putin’s war effort.

Recent sanctions against Russia include tougher restrictions on already sanctioned individuals and companies involved in the war effort. More than 125 individuals and organizations in 20 countries are affected by US sanctions.

Russia had attended a few summits with the other seven countries before being removed from what was then the Group of Eight following the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Aware of the symbolic importance of the host city, Kishida has twice taken leaders to a peace park dedicated to the tens of thousands who died in the world’s first atomic bomb blast in the war. He had wanted nuclear disarmament to be a focus of the discussions.

Some Survivors of the 1945 atomic bomb attack and their families feared that Zelenskyy’s inclusion in the summit would eclipse that priority. Etsuko Nakatani, an activist whose parents survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, said the leaders’ visit was “not appropriate for Hiroshima, a peace-loving city.”

Demonstrators carrying banners reading “No War, No G7” briefly tussled with riot police during a Sunday march, deployed in a massive show of force across the city.

G7 leaders also discussed efforts to strengthen the global economy and tackle rising prices, which are straining families and government budgets around the world, particularly in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They reiterated their goal of raising up to $600 billion in funding in a program designed to offer countries an alternative to China’s investment dollars.

Associated Press contributors Josh Boak, Elaine Kurtenbach, and Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.

Related Articles

Back to top button