© Reuters. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands during the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima, Japan May 20, 2023. Ukrainian Presidential News Service/Handout via REUTERS
By Dan Peleschuk and Jeff Mason
HIROSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday drew a parallel between the destruction of Bakhmut and the horror of Hiroshima, evoking the symbolism of mass destruction as he ended a surprise appearance at the top of the Group of Seven (G7) in Japan. .
The arrival of Ukraine’s president in Hiroshima on Saturday afternoon on a French government plane marked a dramatic turning point as US President Joe Biden and other leaders stepped up their call for Moscow to end to his invasion, announcing new sanctions and increased military assistance.
In one of its strongest messages on China, the G7 statement took aim at Beijing over “economic coercion” and said the group would reduce exposure to the world’s second-largest economy in everything from chips to minerals and supply chains.
In describing the twin threats of Russian aggression and Chinese intimidation, the leaders called on non-aligned countries like India, whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the summit, to give their full support to the Ukraine.
“I’ll tell you bluntly: the photographs of Hiroshima in ruins absolutely remind me of Bakhmut and other similar settlements,” Zelenskiy told reporters after laying flowers at the cenotaph to the victims of the first atomic bombing of a city in world.
“Nothing alive, all the buildings in ruins.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin meanwhile hailed what he called a victory for his forces in Bakhmut, describing it as a “liberation” in a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website.
On the final day of the three-day summit, Biden announced a $375 million military aid package for Ukraine, including artillery and armored vehicles.
“Along with the entire G7, we support Ukraine and I promise we’re not going anywhere,” Biden told Zelenskiy.
NO “FROZEN CONFLICT”
Biden’s support for Ukraine was echoed by all G7 leaders, which alongside the US and summit host Japan include Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.
Biden confirmed earlier that Washington was supporting Allied training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, though that did not include commitments to deliver the jets themselves.
The offer of such training should make it clear to Russia that it should not expect to succeed in its invasion by prolonging the conflict, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said training would begin this summer and Ukraine would get the air force it needed for the future.
The G7 leaders endeavored to underline some of the key messages targeted by the carefully choreographed meeting.
It was ‘meaningful’ that G7 countries showed solidarity in their quest to uphold international law and order at a summit attended by Zelenskiy as a guest, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio said Kishida.
Scholz said that while the immediate priority was to support the defense of Ukraine, security guarantees for Ukraine should be established once the war was over.
Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron have both signaled that they are opposed to the war becoming a “frozen conflict” or to any proposal for peace talks without the withdrawal of Russian troops.
As the 15-month-old invasion of Moscow drags on, the summit gave Zelenskiy a chance to lobby for support from other participants, like India’s Modi. But he did not meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva due to scheduling issues.
‘DE-RISK’ FROM CHINA
If determination to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion was the key takeaway, the other was distrust of China as a trading partner and as a potentially disruptive influence in the world. world.
“China poses the greatest challenge of our time to global security and prosperity. They are increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad,” Sunak from the UK told reporters.
Biden met with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Sunday to discuss military interoperability and the economic coercion they face from China, a US official said.
A day earlier, G7 leaders outlined a common approach to China, seeking to “mitigate risk, not decouple” economic engagement with a country seen as the factory of the world.
In a statement, the G7 also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, where Chinese military exercises have raised concerns about the security of Taiwan, the democratic and self-governing island that China considers as part of its territory.
China’s Foreign Ministry has sent a complaint to Japan expressing its opposition to the G7 statement, saying it disregarded China’s concerns, attacked it and interfered in its internal affairs , including Taiwan.