Ukraine’s President seeks increased support and discusses Russia’s invasion at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima
Hiroshima, Japan – In a surprise move, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine made a notable appearance at the G7 Summit, held in Hiroshima. Zelensky’s presence at the summit came on the heels of a significant development for Ukraine, as the White House granted access to advanced F-16 fighter jets, marking a historic decision that strengthens Ukraine’s defense capabilities.
Initially expected to join the summit via video call, Zelensky’s arrival in person marked a symbolic gesture of appreciation for the support Ukraine has received. The Group of Seven rich democracies convened in Japan to discuss various issues, including the need for constructive and stable relations with China, which the bloc accused of economic coercion.
However, it was Ukraine’s President and the future of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine that took center stage during the summit. With the Ukrainian military preparing for a counteroffensive after enduring a challenging winter with Russian gains in the city of Bakhmut, the country remains reliant on Western weaponry.
The acquisition of the F-16 fighter jets from the United States represents a significant upgrade for Ukraine’s aging Soviet-era fleet. These advanced aircraft provide the country with enhanced capabilities to strike both aerial and ground targets. Beyond their military value, the F-16s also serve as a potent symbol of Western support for Ukraine, dispelling any notion of waning interest in the conflict.
The decision to grant access to the F-16s marks a shift in US policy, as President Joe Biden had previously vetoed the transfer due to concerns about pilot training times and the potential escalation of the conflict with Russia. However, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan clarified that the decision was made considering the exigencies of the ongoing conflict. Sullivan emphasized that Ukraine had committed not to use US military equipment to strike targets within Russia, as efforts are made to avoid further escalation.
Following the lifting of the US veto, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promptly announced that the United Kingdom would collaborate with the USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark to ensure that Ukraine receives the combat air capability it needs.
For President Zelensky, this trip to the Asia-Pacific region represents his first since the war began and offers an opportunity to engage with allies and court the support of key unaligned powers attending the summit, including India and Brazil. Experts suggest that engaging with these non-Western actors is crucial for Ukraine to garner support and address any ambivalence toward the conflict, particularly in terms of sanctions.
Dressed in his trademark olive-green hoodie, President Zelensky arrived at Hiroshima airport on a French state plane. He was welcomed on the tarmac by a red carpet and a phalanx of officials, underscoring the significance of his presence and Ukraine’s ongoing struggle.
In a joint statement issued before Zelensky’s arrival, G7 leaders strongly denounced the weaponization of trade and supply chains, warning that such efforts would fail and face consequences, serving as a veiled message to China. The bloc also highlighted the need to address vulnerabilities in supply chains for critical goods such as minerals, semiconductors, and batteries.
In addition to addressing trade concerns, the G7 urged China to put pressure on Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine and emphasized their continued pursuit of constructive and stable relations with China, despite concerns over militarization in the South China Sea.
As the G7 Summit continues, President Zelensky’s participation serves as a powerful reminder of Ukraine’s ongoing struggle for sovereignty and territorial integrity. The acquisition of F-16 fighter jets