Zelenskyy says peace will be 'closer' as he arrives in Japan for G7 summit

Volodomyr Zelenskyy has arrived in Japan, as he hailed critical support from G7 nations as an 'historic decision', ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston reports

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has landed in Japan for talks with the G7 one day after the US endorsed a plan for Ukraine pilots to train on F-16 fighter jets.

He arrived in Hiroshima on Saturday morning, tweeting that “peace will become closer today” ahead of talks with the leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies.

Before greeting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with an embrace, an EU official said Mr Zelenskyy will take part in two separate sessions on Sunday.

The first session will be with G7 members only and will focus on the war in Ukraine, while the second will also include other nations invited to the summit and will focus on “peace and stability.”

The timing for when Ukraine will receive the jets - and which countries will provide them - remains unclear, but the official said the F-16s will not be used for Ukraine's upcoming counteroffensive.

It is a significant move from the White House, after US President Joe Biden previously refused requests from Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy to permit the use of the US-made aircraft.

The prime minister tells ITV News' Political Editor Robert Peston the UK will continue to support Ukraine

On Friday, Mr Sunak told ITV News that Russia needs to understand “they can't just outlast us in this conflict, that we will continue to defend Ukraine.”

Speaking to ITV News political editor, Robert Peston, the PM added: “One of the common topics of conversation I’ll be having and have been having with my fellow leaders is about the longer term security agreements that we put in place in Ukraine, to deter future Russian aggression.”

Later on Friday, Mr Sunak and his fellow G7 leaders announced their vow to tighten punishments for Russia's 15-month invasion of Ukraine.

“Our support for Ukraine will not waver,” the G7 leaders said in a statement released after closed-door meetings, pledging “to stand together against Russia’s illegal… unprovoked war of aggression.”

“Russia started this war and can end this war,” said the G7, which is made up of Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Italy, as well as the European Union.

Mr Putin’s nuclear threats against Ukraine, along with North Korea ’s months-long barrage of missile tests and China’s rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal, have resonated with Japan’s push to make nuclear disarmament a major part of the G7 summit.

G7 leaders pose for a family photo at the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima prefecture, western Japan. Credit: AP

World leaders have faced a balancing act at the G7 as they look to address that raft of global worries, which also includes climate change, AI, and poverty.

China, the world’s No. 2 economy, sits at the nexus of many of those concerns.

There is increasing anxiety in Asia that Beijing, which has been steadily building up its nuclear weapons program, could try to seize Taiwan by force, sparking a wider conflict.

China claims the self-governing island as its own and regularly sends ships and warplanes near it.

The G7 leaders issued a statement warning that China’s “accelerating build-up of its nuclear arsenal without transparency (or) meaningful dialogue poses a concern to global and regional stability.”

“We do seek to cooperate with China on matters of mutual interest,” US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. “We will work to address our significant concerns that we have with China in a range of areas.”

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