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Zelenskyy says peace will be ‘closer’ as he makes dramatic visit to Japan for G7 summit


May 20, 2023

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Ukraine’s President Volodomyr Zelenskyy landed in Japan on Saturday for diplomatic talks with the leaders of the Group of Seven countries, hours after President Joe Biden and his allies announced a series of new sanctions designed to impede Russia’s ability to prolong the war.

«Important meetings with partners and friends from Ukraine,» Zelenskyy tweeted upon arrival at Hiroshima airport on a plane provided by France. “Enhanced security and cooperation for our victory. Peace will be closer today.»

Wearing his trademark green military uniform, he shook hands with officials before being taken to the summit, where he met several leaders including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron. He was also expected to meet with President Joe Biden and deliver a speech.

Also on the agenda is a tour of a Hiroshima museum dedicated to the atomic bomb attack that leveled the city at the end of World War II. The visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum will likely have a special resonance for Zelenskyy, whose smallest country is at war with a nuclear-armed power.

In the run up to the three-day event, participants expected him to appear at least virtually. But until Friday there was no confirmation that she would make the potentially dangerous journey from kyiv. the farthest you have traveled from your country since last year’s invasion.

It landed hours after the United States agreed to allow training on American-made F-16 fighter jets, laying the groundwork for its eventual transfer to Ukraine.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan later told reporters in Japan that Biden had shared plans with G7 allies Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada to supply the plane.

“Over the past several months, we and our allies and partners have really focused on providing Ukraine with the systems, weapons and training it needs to be able to conduct effective offensive operations this spring and summer,” Sullivan said.

“We have delivered what we promised, we have given Ukraine what it needs based on close consultations between our military and theirs, and now, we have moved on to discussions on upgrading the Ukrainian Air Force as part of our long-term commitment. with the self-defense of Ukraine. .”

Sullivan suggested that the fighter jets were part of that commitment and that as training unfolds in the coming months, the United States will work with allies to determine details about the delivery of the planes, including how many will be sent.

When Ukraine will receive the fighter jets, and which countries will provide them, remains unclear, but a senior Biden administration official told NBC News on Friday that the jets will not be used for Ukraine’s upcoming counteroffensive. against Russia.

Sullivan also told reporters that he thought it was «a safe bet» that President Joe Biden would meet Zelenskyy at the summit.

The G7 vowed to step up pressure on Russia in a joint statement on Saturday.

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

Russia is now the most sanctioned country in the world and the latest measures targeting Moscow include tighter restrictions on already sanctioned individuals and companies participating in the war effort.

«Our support for Ukraine will not waver,» the statement said. The G7 leaders also vowed to «stand united against Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.»

«Russia started this war and can end this war,» they said.

Peter Nicholas reported from Hiroshima and Leila Sackur from London.