Hiroshima, Japan – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during his attendance at the Group of Seven summit, Japan’s foreign ministry has announced.
Zelenskyy will also join a meeting on peace and security with the G7 leaders and other country representatives during the summit in Hiroshima, Japan’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.
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The Ukrainian leader is expected to arrive in Hiroshima on Saturday after wrapping up a surprise visit to an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, where he called on Middle Eastern leaders to “help protect our people, including [the] Ukrainian Muslim community”.
Earlier in the week, Zelenskyy conducted a whistle-stop trip to Italy, the Vatican, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, where political leaders pledged to help restock Ukraine’s depleted supplies of missiles, tanks and drones.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, confirmed reports on Friday that Zelenskyy would attend the G7 summit in person after early indications the Ukrainian leader would only attend the gathering online.
Zelenskyy’s trip to Japan will be his first visit to Asia since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Kishida, the host of the G7, has taken by far the strongest stand against Russia’s war in Ukraine among Asian leaders, imposing sanctions on hundreds of Russian entities and pledging billions of dollars in aid to Kyiv.
Kishida is implementing Japan’s biggest military buildup since World War II and has repeatedly linked Ukraine’s plight to the fate of Taiwan, which China has threatened to “reunify” with the Chinese mainland by force if necessary.
In March, Kishida visited Ukraine where Zelenskyy described the Japanese leader as a “powerful defender of the international order” and “a longtime friend of Ukraine”.
Nick Bisley, a professor of international relations at La Trobe University in Melbourne, told Al Jazeera that Zelenskyy’s attendance would be a “big boost” for the summit and help to “mobilise a unity ticket on Russia”.
In Hiroshima, Zelenskyy is expected to rally the member nations of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the United States – to ramp up pressure on Moscow to end the war and increase their support for Ukraine.
Zelenskyy is also expected to hold bilateral talks with G7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden.
On Friday, the G7 leaders pledged to tighten sanctions on Russia further to degrade its ability to continue its “illegal aggression” against Ukraine. The club of rich economies is expected to unveil a range of coordinated measures targeting the Russian economy, although there are divisions among members about how far punitive measures should go.
The US and the UK on Friday announced new unilateral sanctions, including a ban by London on imports of Russian diamonds.