G7 summit: Zelensky accuses some Arab leaders of “turning a blind eye” to the war before Japan’s trip

  • By Tessa Wong in Hiroshima and James Gregory in London
  • BBC News

photo caption,

The Ukrainian leader was in Saudi Arabia before an expected trip to the G7 in Japan

Volodymyr Zelensky has accused some Arab leaders of “turning a blind eye” to the Russian invasion ahead of his expected visit to the G7 in Japan.

Ukraine has confirmed that Mr. Zelensky will meet with President Biden “in the next few days.”

Zelensky was in Saudi Arabia on Friday to attend the Arab League summit.

Among the Arab League countries, only Syria publicly supported the Russian invasion. Others sought to maintain good relations with Moscow.

“Unfortunately, there are some in the world and here of you who turn a blind eye to these [prisoner of war] “Illegal cages and annexations,” Mr. Zelensky said.

“I am here so that everyone can take an honest look, no matter how hard the Russians try to impress, there is still independence.”

Mr. Zelensky also told the assembled leaders in Jeddah that his country was defending itself against colonialists and imperialists, and seemed to evoke the Arab world’s history of invasion and occupation.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman renewed his offer to Saudi Arabia to mediate between Moscow and Kiev to end the fighting at the summit.

Meanwhile, Syria has only been re-admitted to the Arab League — its leader, Bashar al-Assad, told the summit there was a historic opportunity for the region to reconfigure itself without foreign interference.

Zelensky also targeted Iran, which is not a member of the Arab League, for providing Shahed drones to Russia. Iran denies supplying drones to the conflict.

The Ukrainian leader is expected to travel from Saudi Arabia to attend the G7 summit, where he will speak with US President Joe Biden.

Zelensky’s office told Ukrainian media that the two men would meet “in the next few days” in Japan.

The summit began on Friday with a renewed condemnation of Russia and the announcement of more sanctions.

The group of seven countries, made up of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Japan, represent the world’s richest democracies. This year, eight more countries are invited including Australia and India.

image source, Getty Images

photo caption,

The G7 leaders imposed more sanctions on Russia on the opening day of the summit

The trip to Japan will be the farthest Zelensky has traveled from Kiev since the war began in February 2022.

Once in Hiroshima, he will likely try to persuade more cautious leaders to come to the aid, such as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian leader Narendra Modi.

“By showing up in person, this is an opportunity for him to make sure he doesn’t walk away empty-handed, and that he comes back to Kiev full of the arms deals he wants,” including the promise of lethal weapons from Japan, said John Kirton, director of the G7 Research Group.

Although Japan is very sympathetic to Ukraine, its strict military laws mean that it has so far provided only non-lethal defense equipment.

Earlier on Friday, Kishida welcomed G7 leaders at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park where they laid wreaths to honor those who died in the US atomic bomb that hastened the end of World War II.

The summit’s first day ended with a statement in which member states pledged “new steps” to stop the war in Ukraine, and promised more sanctions “to increase costs to Russia and those who support its war effort.”

They said they would “deny Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine” and limit Russia’s revenue from energy and diamond sales.

In response to what it described as “anti-Russian” US sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced its own set of sanctions against 500 US citizens, including former US President Barack Obama.

The G7 summit, which ends on Sunday, is expected to end with a statement on the war in Ukraine.

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