HIROSHIMA: The United States and other rich democracies on Sunday (May 21) will bring to a close a Group of Seven (G7) gathering that has focused on undermining Russia and managing China with a show of force behind Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Zelenskyy will receive a hero’s welcome during the closing day of the G7 summit hosted in Hiroshima, Japan, where leaders debated how to respond to a conflict that many expect only to escalate after nearly 15 months of fighting.
Western countries used the event to announce new sanctions against Moscow and vowed to pump even more weapons, military assistance and cash into the fight.
But they planned to aim the most rhetorical fire at China, Russia’s most powerful ally in Asia, implicitly warning Chinese President Xi Jinping that any efforts to bully them or change the status quo in self-ruled Taiwan or the disputed South China Sea would be met with the same resolve as Russia’s attempt to re-draw Ukraine’s borders.
“A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest,” the leaders said in a communique that included some of their toughest language ever as a group regarding Beijing.
On Sunday, Japan and South Korea, two of China’s wealthiest neighbours, will highlight their improved ties with a joint meeting.
Meanwhile, Zelenskiyy will brief leaders on what Kyiv needs for a ramped-up spring offensive against Moscow that he has said will create the conditions for a resolution to the conflict.
On Saturday, Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed his Wagner fighters had completed the capture of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, but Kyiv rejected the claim and said fighting was continuing there. Bakhmut has been the focus of the longest and bloodiest battle of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden on Friday endorsed training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets for the first time as leaders announced new sanctions on Russia.
Biden is planning to roll out a US$375 million military aid package for Ukraine in Japan as well, according to a US official. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the package will include artillery, ammunition and HIMARS rocket launchers.
But Zelenskiyy has pushed the countries to go further on both economic and military measures.
“Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine,” Zelenskiyy said on Twitter as he arrived in Hiroshima. “Security and enhanced cooperation for our victory. Peace will become closer today.”