Ukraine Dominates G7 Summit

05/22/2023
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    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center rear, joins G7 world leaders in a working session at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 21, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/Pool via AP)

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The Group of Seven three-day summit closed in Hiroshima, Japan, on Sunday. But the presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed the importance of his country’s war with Russia—and took attention from other issues.

The G7 nations are Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, and Italy. Even before Zelenskyy landed in Hiroshima on Saturday, the group had unveiled new sanctions. Those and other measures are meant to punish Moscow over its February 2022 invasion. (For background on the war, read Russia Attacks.)

Dressed in his trademark olive drab, Zelenskyy huddled with some of his biggest backers at the summit. He sought to build support for his country’s war effort.

Zelenskyy held two major rounds of meetings yesterday. One was with G7 leaders. A second added invited guests, including India and South Korea.

Hanging over Sunday’s talks was Russia’s claim that its forces had seized the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. The eight-month battle for the city has been the longest and likely bloodiest of the war.

Comments by Zelenskyy earlier in the day in English suggested that the Russians had finally prevailed. But he later told reporters in Ukrainian that “Bakhmut is not occupied by the Russian Federation as of today.”

Support for Ukraine was strong among the G7 group. Host and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declared the group was committed to “strong backing for Ukraine from every possible dimension.”

U.S. President Joe Biden announced new military aid worth $375 million for Ukraine. That included ammunition, armored vehicles, and training on F-16 fighter jets.

“We have Ukraine’s back and we’re not going anywhere,” President Biden says.

In a private meeting with Zelenskyy, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol promised to provide demining equipment and ambulances to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India is the world’s largest democracy. The country is a major buyer of Russian arms and oil. Its government has avoided outright condemnation of Russia’s invasion.

“Zelenskyy’s presence puts some pressure on G7 leaders to deliver more—or explain to him directly why they can’t,” says economics expert Matthew Goodman.

G7 leaders rolled out a new wave of global sanctions on Russia. They also have plans to enhance the effectiveness of existing financial penalties meant to constrain President Vladimir Putin’s war effort. Russia is now the most-sanctioned country in the world.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the G7 as “fixated on comprehensive confrontation with Russia.”

While supporting Ukraine, Kishida remained mindful of the host city’s symbolic importance. He twice took leaders to visit a peace park. It is dedicated to the tens of thousands who died in the world’s first wartime atomic bomb blast in 1945. Some survivors of that horrific bombing and their families expressed concern that Zelenskyy’s appearance at the summit overshadowed discussion about nuclear disarmament.

G7 leaders and the European Union addressed global distress over poverty, economic woes, and nuclear stockpiling. They repeated their aim to pull together financing in order to offer countries a substitute for China’s investments.

Still, talk of Ukraine dominated the summit. The G7 nations vowed to intensify pressure on Russia. The group states that the assault on Ukraine is “a threat to the whole world in breach of fundamental norms, rules, and principles of the international community.”

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. — Isaiah 1:17

(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center rear, joins G7 world leaders in a working session at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 21, 2023. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via AP)