Zelenskyy calls on G7 to ensure Russia is ‘last aggressor’

Ukrainian leader’s visit to Japan highlighted significant divisions preventing the formation of a united front against Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his address after securing commitments from Group of Seven countries to ramp up pressure on Russia [Louise Delmotte/AP Photo]

Hiroshima, Japan – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the world to prevent future wars by ensuring Russia is the “last aggressor”, capping a visit to Japan that secured new sanctions against Moscow and weapons for Kyiv.

In a speech marking the end of a week-long diplomatic blitz spanning Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s victory against Russia would deter future aggressors, casting his 10-point peace plan as the world’s “salvation from war”.

Zelenskyy’s plan, first proposed in November, would restore Ukraine’s borders and see the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory, as well as provide guarantees for nuclear, energy and food security.

“We will paralyse other potential aggressors,” Zelenskyy told a press conference on Sunday, the last day of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima.

“When everyone who wants war sees how determined the world is when it wants peace, there will be no point to start a war.”

Zelenskyy made his address after securing commitments from G7 countries to ramp up pressure on Russia and boost support for the defence of Ukraine.

United States President Joe Biden earlier announced a $375m military aid package that includes more ammunition, artillery and armoured vehicles, on top of offering his support for the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.

On Friday, the G7 leaders pledged to tighten their sanctions against Russia and continue to support Ukraine for the long term.

Washington separately imposed new sanctions on 22 Russians and 104 Russian entities, while United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a ban on imports of Russian diamonds, copper, aluminium, tin and nickel.

The European Union is currently negotiating an 11th package of sanctions that aims to close loopholes and tackle the evasion of existing measures.

In a speech against the backdrop of the Atomic Bomb Dome earlier on Sunday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the G7 host, cast Zelenskyy’s attendance as evidence of his country’s “unwavering solidarity” with Ukraine and condemned Moscow’s invasion as striking at the “very foundation of the international order”.

Even so, Zelenskyy’s visit highlighted significant divisions preventing the formation of a united front against Russia, and the Ukrainian leader did not get everything that he wanted in Hiroshima.

While the G7 remains influential, its share of the global economy has plunged from about 70 percent during the 1980s to 44 percent today – meaning that choking the Russian economy increasingly requires buy-in from the wider international community.

Kishida invited eight non-G7 members to the summit, including India, Indonesia, Australia and South Korea, as part of efforts to boost cooperation on global challenges, including the war in Ukraine.

‘Nothing has changed’

India, China and Turkey have ramped up imports of Russian energy since the invasion, blunting the impact of sanctions on Russia’s economy, which shrank by a less-than-expected 2.1 percent last year.

While Zelenskyy met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pledged to do “whatever we can” to resolve the Ukraine crisis, there were no indications that New Delhi would impose sanctions or curtail its purchases of Russian energy.

“Nothing has changed fundamentally since the war began,” Alka Acharya, a professor at the Centre for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told Al Jazeera.

“In terms of Indian interests and as he [Modi] has indicated, he would be championing the cause of the Global South at the summit. He would, in my view, stick to that brief – apart from making general observations about desiring a quick end to the war.”

Zelenskyy did not meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula, who last month said it was “no use now in saying who is right” in the conflict.

The Ukrainian leader played down the lack of talks, suggesting that it was a simple matter of scheduling.

“I think it disappointed him,” Zelenskyy said when asked if he was disappointed the two men did not meet, prompting laughter among the assembled media.

Zelenskyy also admitted he would like to see Japan and South Korea provide weapons to Ukraine, along with all other countries capable of doing so, but acknowledged that “legislative and constitutional complications” made such moves difficult for some governments.

Zelenskyy expressed confidence that his country would receive F-16 fighter jets from Western countries, although Kyiv has yet to secure commitments for the delivery of the planes.

Yet even among the G7 members, gaps in the sanctions regime against Russia persist.

Philipp Lausberg, a policy analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, described the G7’s measures against Russia’s diamond trade, for example, as “meagre”.

“The UK is the only country that went ahead and put in place an embargo on Russian diamonds, but all the other countries have only expressed their intent to at some point restrict the trade of Russian diamonds,” Lausberg told Al Jazeera.

Still, Zelenskyy was defiant on Sunday evening as the curtain closed on his visit to Japan, expressing his belief that Russia “cannot win” its war and that “international law will never again apply” if Moscow is not stopped.

“I believe war has no place in the world,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies