Rishi Sunak has met Volodymyr Zelensky at the G7 summit in Hiroshima after the Ukrainian president closed in on obtaining the F-16 fighter jets he wants to fight off Russia.
“Good to see you,” the Prime Minister said, slapping him on the back after they greeted each other with an embrace. “You made it.”
Asked by reporters if it was a good day for Ukraine, Mr Zelensky smiled, nodded and said “thank you so much”.
He is on course to receive the boost of being donated advanced fighter jets after US president Joe Biden authorised western allies to transfer them to Kyiv.
Mr Zelensky tweeted: “Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced cooperation for our victory. Peace will become closer today.”
G7 leaders vowed to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” and to increase the costs to Russia and those who support its war.
They also used their joint statement to be critical of China, saying they remain “seriously concerned” about the aggression shown towards Taiwan.
Moscow warned that the “escalation” carries “enormous risks” for the countries involved.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the Tass news agency: “We can see that Western countries continue to stick to an escalation scenario, which carries enormous risks for them.
“In any case, we will take it into account when making plans.
“We have all the necessary means to achieve our goals.”
Mr Zelensky flew into Japan for what had been a surprise visit until the news trickled out on Friday.
Having hosted him on Monday in his Chequers retreat, the Prime Minister warmly welcomed Mr Zelensky to a summit meeting room in Hiroshima, where allies are discussing their support for Ukraine.
“It was great to see you in the week,” Mr Sunak told him at the top of the informal meeting.
Joe Biden informed his allies at the conference in Hiroshima that he will give legal authorisation to allow the American-made planes to be donated to Kyiv.
The US president, who is attending the G7 with other members France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada, as well as the EU, also announced training for Ukrainian pilots.
The Prime Minister welcomed the decision, having pressed allies to provide the Ukrainian president with the jets he has been calling for.
Mr Sunak tweeted: “Ukraine, we’re not going anywhere.”
The RAF does not have any US-manufactured F-16s. Washington must legally approve their export.
Mr Zelensky is expected to take part in meetings with the G7 on Sunday.
His presence will potentially bring him into contact with India’s Narendra Modi and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who have not supported Ukraine like their western allies.
Neither are G7 members, but India is being represented at the summit because it is the current G20 chair, while Brazil has been invited as a guest.
Mr Zelensky’s attendance at the G7, the group that Russia was expelled from over its 2014 annexation of Crimea, is another display of solidarity from western allies.
Japan said he has a “strong wish” to take part in the talks that will influence his nation’s defence against Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
He will also have the chance to pressure and charm India and Brazil into supporting Ukraine.
On Saturday, Mr Sunak met with French president Emmanuel Macron for discussions at the summit and had a short “brush-by” meeting with German chancellor Olaf Scholz.
They discussed providing military aid and “longer-term security assistance” to Ukraine as well as tackling small boat crossings of the Channel, Downing Street said.
Meanwhile, the G7 announced it would establish a new team to root out and counter Russia and China’s use of economic coercion to influence nations’ decisions.
Published: 20/05/2023 by Radio NewsHub