Zelensky joins G7 in Japan as democracies take aim at Russia and China

The Ukrainian president will hold bilateral meetings with G7 leaders, but significantly also the leaders of India and Brazil

Published : 20 May 2023, 07:58 AM
Updated : 20 May 2023, 07:58 AM

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Japan on Saturday to attend the Group of Seven (G7) summit, giving him a rare chance to both drum up support from the world's rich democracies and sound out "Global South" leaders with long ties to Russia.

The Ukrainian president's attendance at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, the first city to suffer a nuclear attack, also put in sharp relief western concerns over the nuclear threat posed by Moscow.

G7 members - the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada - are grappling with the immense challenges posed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and tensions with China, notably over Taiwan and economic security.

Worried by the outsized role China now plays in supply chains in everything from semiconductors to critical minerals, the G7 issued a communique that set out a common strategy towards future dealings with the world's second largest economy.

"We are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognise that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying," the communique said.

"A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest."

In a separate statement on economic security, G7 members warned that countries attempting to use trade as a weapon would face "consequences", sending a strong signal to Beijing over practices Washington has long said amount to economic bullying.

The communique was issued shortly after the French government aircraft that brought Zelenskiy to Hiroshima touched down.

Footage from Japanese broadcasters showed the Ukrainian president, wearing his customary olive green fatigues, stepping down to the tarmac moving quickly to a waiting car.

Moments later he tweeted: "Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine."

French and European officials said it was crucial that Zelensky came in person first to the Arab League, which he addressed on Friday, and now to the G7, where members of the Global South are attending, in order to outline Ukraine's view as the victim of an attack by Russia and how he saw a peace settlement in the future.

"We have to use all the means to bind non-aligned states to the cause of the defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," a French presidential official told reporters.

Zelensky will hold bilateral meetings with G7 leaders, but significantly also the leaders of India and Brazil, two countries that have not distanced themselves from Moscow.

Both Brazil and India are members of the BRIC grouping that also includes Russia and China.

He is due to hold a session on Sunday with the G7 before a broader session with the Global South attendees.