Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy held talks with India’s Narendra Modi yesterday and was due to meet other ‘Global South’ leaders at a Group of Seven (G-7) summit aimed at broadening support for his country in its war against Russia.
The three-day G-7 meeting in the Japanese city of Hiroshima has already agreed new sanctions on Russia and measures to stand up to what it called China’s economic coercion, drawing the ire of Moscow and a complaint to the summit host Japan from Beijing.
Flown in from an Arab League summit on a French government jet, Zelenskiy, wearing his customary olive green fatigues, was warmly greeted by G-7 leaders and held talks with Modi as part of a series of meetings with non-aligned countries in attendance.
Zelenskiy said on the Telegram message app that the two discussed Ukraine’s needs concerning mobile hospitals and the removal of land mines and that he had invited India to join Ukraine’s peace formula.
Modi’s Twitter account posted a photo of the two shaking hands, noting he had told Zelenskiy of India’s readiness to continue humanitarian help for the people of Ukraine and its backing for ‘dialogue and diplomacy’ to seek peace.
Modi, whose country forms the so-called BRICS group alongside Brazil and China, has not distanced itself from Russia. Its oil deals with Russia are seen as undermining Western sanctions by allowing Russia to continue benefiting from energy revenues.
India’s fuel purchases from Russia were not discussed in yesterday’s meeting, India’s foreign secretary, Vinay Kwatra, said. New Delhi says it is defending its own interests in buying Russian oil.
A French presidential source said Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would also meet Zelenskiy in Hiroshima.
European officials said it was crucial that Zelenskiy came in person first to Friday’s Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia and now to the Hiroshima gathering so that he could outline Ukraine’s view of how the war with Russia can be ended.
“I think this is a unique opportunity to (have) exchanges with a lot of countries from the south and express your situation, express a message and share a view,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.
“I do believe it can be a game-changer.”
G-7 nations – the US, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada – are grappling with the challenges posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and tensions with China, including over Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own.
On Friday, the leaders announced new measures aimed at hitting the Russian economy and promised further military support, including backing by US President Joe Biden for Ukrainian pilots to be trained to fly F-16 fighter jets.
Worried by the outsized role China now plays in supply chains for everything from semiconductors to critical minerals, the G-7 issued a communique that set out a common strategy towards future dealings with the world’s second-largest economy.
They warned that countries attempting to use trade as a weapon would face ‘consequences’, in a signal to Beijing over practices Washington says amount to economic bullying.
“We are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognise that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying,” they said. “A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the decisions showed the G-7 was bent on what he called the ‘double containment’ of Russia and China.