Zelenskyy leaves G7 summit buoyed by solidarity after visit filled with symbolism

ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports from Hiroshima as the G7 summit comes to an end

In a visit filled with symbolism, the G7 briefly became the G8 again on Sunday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, dressed in military green, joined a summit family photo that used to include Russia.

President Putin was excluded from the alliance nine years ago after his illegal annexation of Crimea.

The image projected a powerful show of unity from the world’s richest nations and leaders of the European Union. President Zelenskyy’s presence dominated the final day of G7 discussions, in a session which included observer nations he was placed, by no mistake, next to the Indian prime minister.

One of the reasons he came to Japan was to be able to appeal directly to those nations which have so far remained neutral on the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, fifth right, poses with G7 world leaders on the final day of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima Credit: AP

Hiroshima was his last stop on a campaign for unity which has included the Vatican and the Middle East. His stop in Saudi Arabia on Friday allowed him to meet Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman who is a friend of President Putin and who has previously helped with the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war. On Sunday, the Ukrainian leader also got the opportunity to personally thank President Biden for approving F-16 fighter jets and a new package of military aid.

The American Government has agreed to deliver more ammunition, artillery, and armoured vehicles.

Biden walks with Zelenskyy ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the G7 Summit Credit: AP

In his closing press conference Rishi Sunak said Ukrainian pilots will start training in the UK this summer and the country would be delivering more support through air defence, artillery, tanks and long-range missiles.

The prime minister added that the military, diplomatic and economic tools being offered to Ukraine were all part of their counteroffensive.

He said a powerful message had been sent to Russia and the world that the G7 is united behind President Zelenskyy and his people, and that the support will continue for as long as it takes.

The prime minister said Zelenskyy's attendance at the summit sends a message to the world that G7 leaders will continue supporting Ukraine 'for as long as it takes'

As the sun was setting behind the Hiroshima hills the Ukrainian president visited the city’s peace memorial park and was the last world leader to lay flowers alongside the Japanese prime minister.

It is a sobering place to reflect on the war he is fighting, and he looked moved by the experience.

He said some of the stories he had heard and images he had seen in the Hiroshima Museum resonated with what he was seeing in Ukraine today.

It was Prime Minister Kishida who invited President Zelenksy to join the summit in Japan, the G7 host has taken a strong stance on the war in Ukraine, supporting sanctions against Russia, hoping if the time comes Europe would support Asia against Chinese aggression.

Zelenskyy and Kishida lay flowers at the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima Credit: AP

In his closing remarks the Japanese leaders did not mention Russia or China by name but said the G7 would not allow any attempts to unilaterally change status quo by force anywhere in the world.

He spoke of the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan strait and urged a peaceful resolution. China has responded by accusing the G7 of smearing its name and meddling in its internal affairs. A government statement also warned Japan not to stoke confrontation. Prime Minister Kishida decided to host the summit in Hiroshima to demonstrate a commitment to peace.

That it was overshadowed by war, one ongoing in Ukraine and one threatening to erupt over Taiwan, shows there is a lot of work still to be done. President Zelenskyy will return to Ukraine buoyed by G7 solidarity, but impatient for the breakthrough that will end his quest for peace.

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