President Biden gave Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a warm welcome at the G7 summit in Japan, putting his arm around the embattled leader’s shoulder ahead of their one-on-one meeting.
Zelensky addressed the leaders of the world’s seven largest economies behind closed doors to where he appealed for greater assistance in Ukraine’s fight against Russia at the annual summit, this year in Hiroshima, CNN reported.
In a photo-op before talks began Saturday morning, Zelensky, wearing his iconic military green, posed alongside world leaders in suits and ties for a dramatic picture.
As the leaders gathered, Biden put his hand on Zelensky shoulder to show his support when the two had a moment together.
The White House confirmed that Biden and Zelensky will meet together Sunday afternoon, according to the New York Times.
Biden is expected to take questions from reporters at a press conference afterwards.
Zelensky’s traveled halfway around the world to attend the Group of Seven summit to stress Ukraine’s need for ongoing assistance from its allies 15 months into the Russian invasion.
Back in Ukraine, Zelensky’s forces are preparing for a major counter offensive to reclaim areas occupied by Russian troops.
“Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced cooperation for our victory. Peace will become closer today,” Zelenskyy tweeted after his arrival.
Since his arrival, he’s met with numerous world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and others.
“It is necessary to improve (Ukraine’s) air defense capabilities, including the training of our pilots,” Zelenskyy wrote on his official Telegram channel after meeting Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni.
Zelensky won a significant victory Saturday when White House officials confirmed the US would allow allied nations to send F-16s to Ukraine and that the United States would train Ukrainian pilots to fly the fighter jets.
Russia in response condemned the move as an “enormous risk.”
Zelensky’s presence has proved problematic for some nations’ leaders who have close economic ties to Russia.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil was reportedly debating whether or not to sit down with the Ukrainian leader — fearful of angering Russia and China, two of Brazil’s major trading partners.
Zelensky also had his first sit-down conversation with Indian President Narendra Modi since Russian forces entered Ukraine in Feb. 2022.
Modi has recently stepped up his purchase of Russian Energy and continues to seek weapons from Moscow. He has also declined to outright condemn Russia’s invasion.
Zelensky thanked Modi for humanitarian aid India has sent to Ukraine, according to a statement released after their meeting.
The Group of Seven is a group of industrialized nations, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
This year, the leaders of Australia, Brazil, Comoros, Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam were also invited. Russia was a member of the former Group Eight, but was expelled in 2014 after it annexed Crimea.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized the G7 summit for aiming to isolate both China and Russia.
“The task has been set loudly and openly: to defeat Russia on the battlefield, but not to stop there, but to eliminate it as a geopolitical competitor. As a matter of fact, any other country that claims some kind of independent place in the world alignment will also be to suppress a competitor. Look at the decisions that are now being discussed and adopted in Hiroshima, at the G7 summit, and which are aimed at the double containment of Russia and China,” he said.
The G7, however, has vowed to intensify the pressure.
“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. We reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes to bring a comprehensive, just and lasting peace,” the group said in a statement.
China, the world’s second largest economy, is also a focus of the summit amid growing concerns that it may attempt to seize Taiwan and Beijing’s steadily growing nuclear program.
The G7 also hopes to persuade China to pressure Russia to end the war in Ukraine and “support a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”
With Post Wires