Accessibility links

Breaking News

Zelenskyy Addresses G7 as Leaders Increase Pressure on Russia


U.S. President Joe Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the G-7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, May 21, 2023.

In Hiroshima, Japan, the Group of Seven industrial powers Sunday convened the summit’s working session on the war in Ukraine, guest starring Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian president made his dramatic entrance to city the day earlier in a French plane, following his appearance at the Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, where he appealed for support for Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself against Russian aggression.

Hours after Zelenskyy’s arrival, Moscow announced that its forces had occupied Bakhmut, the eastern Ukrainian city under fierce fighting that Zelenskyy’s troops have tried to defend for months.

Zelenskyy initially appeared to confirm that Russia has taken control of the city. “For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts,” he said. He later maintained that Russia had not taken full control of the city.

Dressed in his signature hooded sweater, Zelenskyy held individual meetings with all the G-7 leaders as well as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been criticized for refusing to condemn Russia's invasion.

In his meeting with Zelenskyy, U.S. President Joe Biden announced $375 million in additional aid to Ukraine. “A package that includes more ammunition artillery, armored vehicles to bolster Ukraine's battlefield abilities,” he said.

On the first day of the summit, the G-7 increased sanctions and export controls on Russia and measures to crack down on those helping Moscow evade them. But the biggest boost for Kyiv is the United States finally agreeing to allow its allies to provide their American made F-16 fighter jets and train Ukrainian pilots to fly them. Concerned over conflict escalation, for months, Biden had refused to grant Zelenskyy’s request for the fighter jets to modernize Ukraine's current fleet, which mostly consists of Soviet-era aircraft.

“I'm very happy, thank you very much. Thanks to our partners. It will really help our society, our people, to save houses, families,” Zelenskyy said.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan emphasized U.S. insistence that the F-16s will not be used for strikes on Russian territory.

“All of the capabilities that the United States has proven to Ukraine come with the basic proposition that the United States is not enabling or supporting attacks on Russian territory. That will go for the support for the provision of F-16s by any party as well. And the Ukrainians have consistently indicated that they are prepared to follow through on that,” Sullivan said during a press briefing Saturday.

Condemning Russia

In their communique released Saturday, G-7 leaders again condemn the war in Ukraine “in the strongest possible terms.”

“Russia’s brutal war of aggression represents a threat to the whole world in breach of fundamental norms, rules and principles of the international community,” the statement said. “We reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes to bring a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”

Invited guests attending the G-7 working session on Ukraine in person include leaders of Australia, Brazil, Comoros, Cook Islands, Indonesia, India, South Korea and Vietnam. Their participation is part of Kishida’s outreach to the Global South, where many countries bear the brunt of the impact of the war on food and energy prices.

Hours after Zelenskyy’s arrival in Japan, Moscow announced that its forces had occupied Bakhmut, the eastern Ukrainian city that Zelenskyy’s troops have tried to defend for months.