Zelensky to Attend G-7 in Person

May 19, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to visit the Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Hiroshima, Japan in person on Sunday.

It was initially reported that Zelensky would attend the meeting of the seven major industrial democracies—Canada France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and the U.S.—only virtually.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, confirmed on Friday that Zelensky would physically attend.

“We were sure that our president would be where Ukraine needed him, in any part of the world, to solve the issue of stability of our country,” Danilov said on national television. “There will be very important matters decided there, so physical presence is a crucial thing to defend our interests.”

In a statement released after closed-door meetings on Friday, the G-7 leaders vowed to tighten punishments against Russia for its 15 month-long invasion of its sovereign neighbor. 

“Our support for Ukraine will not waver,” the statement said, adding that the countries vowed “to stand together against Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.”

The group unveiled a new round of sanctions against Moscow, and aimed to redouble efforts to enforce existing sanctions. 

Among the new sanctions, Britain is banning Russian diamond imports to the UK. The Russian diamond industry was worth about $4 billion in exports in 2021.

“I’m hopeful and confident that our partner countries will follow as they have done when we’ve done this previously,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said of sanctioning Russia in an interview with the BBC at the G-7. 

The UK government also said it planned to target 86 more people and companies connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including individuals who have been “actively undermining the impact of existing sanctions.”

The U.S., meanwhile, plans to blacklist about 70 Russians and third-country entities involved in Russia’s defense production. More than 300 individuals, entities, aircraft and vessels are to be sanctioned by the U.S.

On Friday, Zelensky was in Saudi Arabia, where Arab leaders were holding their own, separate summit—including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who depended on Russia’s help to turn the tide of his country’s civil war in his favor.

Gulf nations have tried to remain neutral in the Ukraine conflict in the face of Western pressure to get Gulf oil producers to isolate OPEC+ member Russia.

Saudi Arabia, once heavily influenced by the U.S., has taken the diplomatic lead in the Arab world, not just by welcoming Syria back into the fold, but also re-establishing ties with Iran and mediating in the Sudan conflict.

Zelensky said on Twitter Friday that he was visiting Saudi Arabia to “enhance bilateral relations and Ukraine’s ties with the Arab world.”

“Political prisoners in Crimea and temporarily occupied territories, the return of our people, Peace Formula, energy cooperation,” Zelensky added, saying that Saudi Arabia “plays a significant role and we are ready to take our cooperation to a new level.”

PHOTO: @ZelenskyyUa

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