By FOSTER KLUG, ADAM SCHRECK and JOSH BOAK (Associated Press)
HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) — World leaders stepped up pressure Sunday on Russia for its war on Ukraine, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the center of a whirlwind of diplomacy on the final day of the Group of Seven summit. rich world democracies.
Zelenskyy’s personal presence at one of the world’s largest diplomatic gatherings is meant to galvanize attention to his country’s 15-month fight against Russia. Even before he landed on a French plane on Saturday, the G7 countries had unveiled a series of new sanctions and other measures intended to punish Moscow and hamper its combat capabilities.
Ukraine is at the center of the summit, but the leaders of Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Italy, as well as the European Union, also strive to address global concerns about climate change, AI, poverty and economic instability, and nuclear proliferation.
Two US allies – South Korea and Japan – continued efforts on Sunday to improve relations that have often been strained by lingering anger over issues surrounding Japan’s brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula of 1910 to 1945. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited a memorial to the Korean victims, many of whom were slaves, of the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing.
Washington wants the two neighbors, who are both liberal democracies and bulwarks of American power in the region, to unite on a host of issues, including growing aggression from China, North Korea and of Russia.
Bolstering international support is a key priority as Ukraine prepares for what is seen as a major push to retake territory seized by Russia in the war that began in February last year. Zelenskyy’s visit to the G7 summit closely followed the US agreement to allow training on powerful American-made fighter jets, which lays the groundwork for their eventual transfer to Ukraine.
“Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced cooperation for our victory. Peace will come closer today,” Zelenskyy tweeted after his arrival.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden and Zelenskyy would have direct engagement at the summit. On Friday, Biden announced his support for training Ukrainian pilots on US-made F-16 fighter jets, a precursor to the eventual supply of such planes 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 Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, one of the many leaders with whom he spoke.
Zelenskyy also met on the sidelines of the summit 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 negotiation. .
India, the world’s largest democracy, avoided outright condemnation of the Russian invasion. While India has close ties with the United States and its Western allies, it is also a major buyer of Russian arms and oil.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the G-7 summit for seeking to isolate both China and Russia.
“The task has been set loud and clear: to defeat Russia on the battlefield, but not to stop there, but to eliminate it as a geopolitical competitor. In fact, any other country that claims some sort of independent spot in the global roster will also remove a competitor. Look at the decisions that are currently being discussed and adopted in Hiroshima, at the G7 summit, and which target the double containment of Russia and China,” he said.
The G7, however, pledged to step up the pressure.
“Russia’s brutal war of aggression poses 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,” the group said in a statement.
Another focal point of the meetings was China, the world’s second largest economy.
There are growing fears that Beijing, which is steadily expanding its nuclear weapons program, may attempt to seize Taiwan by force, sparking a wider conflict. China claims the self-governing island as its own and regularly sends warships and warplanes nearby.
The G7 said it did not want to harm China and sought “constructive and stable relations” with Beijing, “recognizing the importance of engaging frankly with China and expressing concerns directly to it”.
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 blistering pace, must completely abandon its nuclear bomb ambitions, “including any further nuclear tests or launches using ballistic missile technology,” the leaders’ statement said.
The green light on F-16 training is the latest change from the Biden administration as it moves to arm Ukraine with more advanced and deadly weaponry, following earlier decisions to send systems of rocket launchers and Abrams tanks. The United States insisted it was sending weapons to Ukraine to defend itself and discouraged Ukraine’s attacks on Russian territory.
“We have reached a point where it is time to look again at the road to say what Ukraine will need as part of a future force, to be able to deter and defend against Russian aggression in as we move forward,” Sullivan said. .
Biden’s decisions on when, how much and who will supply the fourth-generation F-16 fighter jets will be made in the coming months while training is underway, Biden told leaders.
G7 leaders have launched a new wave of global sanctions against Moscow as well as plans to strengthen the effectiveness of existing financial sanctions intended to limit President Vladimir Putin’s war effort. Russia is now the most sanctioned country in the world, but there are questions about the effectiveness.
Russia had participated in some summits with the other seven countries before being removed from the then Group of Eight after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The latest sanctions targeting Russia include tighter restrictions on already-sanctioned people and companies involved in the war effort. More than 125 individuals and organizations in 20 countries have been hit with US sanctions.
The leaders began the summit with a visit to a peace park dedicated to the tens of thousands of people who died in the first wartime atomic bomb explosion. Kishida, who represents Hiroshima in parliament, wants nuclear disarmament to be at the center of discussions.
G7 leaders also discussed efforts to strengthen the global economy and deal with rising prices that are squeezing the budgets of families and governments around the world, particularly in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The group reiterated its goal of raising up to $600 billion in funding for the G7’s global infrastructure development initiative, which aims to provide countries with an alternative to China’s investment dollars.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will skip the final day of the G7 due to flooding earlier this week in northern Italy which left at least 14 people dead and devastated dozens of hamlets and towns.
Biden, who scrapped plans to visit Papua New Guinea and Australia after his stay in Japan so he could resume debt limit talks in Washington, also met with leaders of the so-called Quad Partnership , consisting of Japan, Australia , India and the United States.
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Elaine Kurtenbach and Mari Yamaguchi in Hiroshima, Japan, and Joanna Kozlowska in London contributed to this report.