HIROSHIMA (AP) – World leaders stepped up pressure on Russia over war with Ukraine, the final day of a summit of seven of the world’s richest democracies that sparked a diplomatic whirlwind. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took center stage.
Zelensky’s personal appearance at one of the world’s most important diplomatic conferences is meant to draw attention to the country’s 15-month struggle against Russia. Even before he landed on a French plane on Saturday, G7 countries had announced a series of new sanctions and other measures aimed at punishing Russia and limiting its combat capabilities.
While the focus of the summit is Ukraine, leaders from Japan, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and the European Union are also working to address global concerns about climate change and AI.
U.S. allies South Korea and Japan on Sunday continued efforts to mend ties often marred by continued anger over issues surrounding Japan’s brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol visit a memorial for Korean victims, including many slave laborers, of the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing.
The U.S. government wants its two neighbors, liberal democracies and bulwarks of U.S. power in the region, to unite on a range of issues, including increasing aggression by China, North Korea and Russia.
Increasing international support is a top priority as Ukraine prepares for a major push to retake territories occupied by Russia in the war that began last February.
Mr Zelensky’s visit to the G7 summit comes on the heels of a US agreement to allow the US’s powerful fighter jets to train, laying the groundwork for their eventual transfer to Ukraine.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Presidents Joe Biden and Zelensky will talk face-to-face at the summit. Mr. Biden announced his support for training Ukrainian pilots in US-made F-16 fighter jets ahead of the final delivery of the aircraft to Ukraine.
Alongside the summit, the first face-to-face meeting since the end of the war, President Zelensky also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain the Ukrainian peace plan, which envisages withdrawing Russian troops from the country before negotiations. India, the world’s largest democracy, has avoided directly condemning Russian aggression. While India has close ties with the United States and its Western allies, it is also a major buyer of Russian arms and oil.
Matthew Goodman, an economist at the Institute for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, said summits like the G7 are opportunities for leaders to put pressure on each other to equalize or double their diplomatic efforts. “Mr Zelensky’s presence puts pressure on the G7 leaders to either achieve more or explain directly to Mr Zelensky why they can’t,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the G7 summit of trying to isolate both China and Russia.
Another focus of the conference was China, the world’s second largest economy.
There are growing fears that Beijing, which has steadily expanded its nuclear weapons program, might seek to take Taiwan by force, which could spark a wider conflict. China claims the self-governing island as its own and regularly sends ships and warplanes near it.
G7 leaders plan to introduce a new wave of global sanctions against Russia and boost the effectiveness of existing financial sanctions to deter President Vladimir Putin’s war effort. Russia is currently the most sanctioned country in the world, but its effectiveness is questionable. Russia attended several summits with seven other nations before being excluded from the then-G8 after annexing Crimea in 2014.