Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to appear in person at the Group of Seven nations summit in Japan this weekend to make a direct appeal to allies to increase military support for Ukraine.
Leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies meet at the G7 Summit to discuss threats posed by Russia, China, climate change and other issues. The visit to Japan would be a high-profile international trip for Zelensky as he seeks to secure more aid from the West for Ukraine’s war versus Russia.
Zelensky recently visited several European countries and the United Kingdom to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and he has frequently made virtual addresses to governments backing Ukraine.
But Zelensky has rarely left Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February 2022.
A trip by Zelensky to the G7 would be a dramatic turn of events, meant to underscore Kyiv’s urgent need for more sophisticated weaponry from the West as it prepares to launch a major counteroffensive to take back Russian-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. and its allies have steadily sent Ukraine more advanced weapons systems as the war has continued.
But the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has refused to send Ukraine F-16 fighter jets and meet other demands for more powerful military aid, out of concern the moves could escalate tensions with Moscow.
Zelensky’s likely appearance at the G7 Summit, which has not been confirmed, comes as Biden and other leaders agreed to step up sanctions against Russia.
The G7 nations announced new sanctions aimed at further crippling Russia’s economy and limiting its access to military technology.
Russia is already facing the most severe sanctions ever imposed on a major economy. But a senior U.S. official said the new sanctions will further isolate Moscow from the global economy, while closing loopholes that some countries and companies are using to keep trading with Russia.
The U.S. announced Thursday that it would step up its own sanctions against Russia, with a focus on restricting Moscow’s ability to import critical military technology.
Sanctions on high-end technology have forced Russia to turn to Iran and other U.S. adversaries for help procuring military equipment it once imported from the West.
Details of Zelensky’s potential travel to Japan are unclear, but several news outlets reported he could make the visit Sunday, the day the summit ends and Biden and other leaders prepare to leave Japan.
Biden was scheduled to travel from Japan to Australia for a separate international summit, but is cutting short his trip to return to the U.S. to finish negotiations with leaders in Congress over lifting the debt ceiling.