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G7 summit: Zelensky to travel to Japan to take part in G7 summit, reports say


 

Volodymyr Zelensky is planning to join the G7 summit in Japan, reports say, in a bid to secure strengthened support ahead of a planned counteroffensive in the Ukraine war.

The Ukrainian president is expected to arrive in Hiroshima on Sunday, although his office has not confirmed the visit.

On Friday, Mr Zelensky flew to Saudi Arabia to meet leaders of Arab nations.

The G7 summit kicked off on Friday with a renewed condemnation of Russia and an announcement of further sanctions.

The group of seven nations, made up of the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Japan, represent the world’s richest democracies. This year eight other countries such as Australia and India have also been invited.

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Mr Zelensky had been slated to appear at the summit by videolink, but speculation has been rife that he or his wife, who recently visited South Korea, would attend in person.

The trip will be the furthest he has travelled from Kyiv since the war began in February 2022, and like other trips outside of Ukraine it could pose a potential risk to his safety.

But the calculation is that the risk is worth taking if it means securing even more help in his fight against Russia.

“When a person is somewhere far away, across the ocean, somewhere else, they do not always feel and understand what is happening on the territory of our country. It is the physical presence of our president that is extremely important at such events,” said Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s powerful National Security and Defence Council.

Several news agencies have reported that Mr Zelensky will travel to the summit, although it has not been officially confirmed.

In the past few days Mr Zelensky has visited Italy, Germany, France and the UK, where he nailed down promises of military support. He also continues to push allies to form a “coalition of jets” to provide advanced fighter jets to Ukraine, but so far no country has committed to directly provide the warplanes.

On Friday, Mr Zelensky arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend the Arab League summit, travelling there on a plane loaned by the French government. It’s thought he will travel from there to the G7 summit.

Once he reaches Hiroshima he is likely to try to persuade leaders more cautious in lending aid, such as Japanese PM Fumio Kishida and Indian leader Narendra Modi.

“By showing up in person, it is a chance for him to ensure he does not come away empty handed, and that he will head back to Kyiv his arms full with the weapons deals that he wants”, including a promise of lethal weapons from Japan, said John Kirton, director of the G7 Research Group think tank.

Though Japan has been hugely sympathetic to Ukraine, its strict military laws have meant that so far it has only given non-lethal defence equipment.

On a drizzly Friday morning, G7 leaders were welcomed by Mr Kishida at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park where they laid wreaths to honour those who died in the US atomic bombing which hastened the end of World War Two.

The summit’s first day ended with a statement in which member countries pledged “new steps” to stop the war in Ukraine and promised further sanctions to “increase the costs to Russia and those who are supporting its war effort”.

They said they would “starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine” and limit Russia’s revenue from energy and diamond sales.

Separately, British PM Rishi Sunak told the BBC that the UK would be sanctioning the Russian diamond industry, and would target more people and companies connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The summit, which ends on Sunday, is expected to end with a communique on the war in Ukraine and a statement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

(Source: BBC)

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