© Reuters. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands during the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima, Japan May 20, 2023. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS
By Andreas Rinke and Trevor Hunnicutt
HIROSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – The Group of Seven (G7) rich nations signalled to Russia their readiness to stand by Ukraine for the long haul while giving President Volodymyr Zelenskiy a chance to win over countries such as Brazil and India on the last day of a summit in Japan.
Distrust of China as a trading partner and determination to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion were the key messages delivered by the world’s leading democracies at the gathering in the city of Hiroshima.
But even as the G7 leaders began wrapping up their three day meeting on Sunday, Russia claimed to have finally captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, following a months long siege that marked the bloodiest battle of the war.
The heads of the G7 – the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada – have debated how to respond as the conflict that began in February last year drags on.
Potential joint allied training programmes for Ukrainian pilots on U.S.-made F-16 warplanes was a message to Russia that it should not expect to succeed in its invasion by prolonging conflict, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday.
Ukraine has not yet won commitments for delivery of the planes, but senior U.S. officials said U.S. President Joe Biden told G7 leaders Washington supports joint allied training programmes for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s.
French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, said the summit was an opportunity to convince big emerging states such as India and Brazil to come off the fence and put their support behind Ukraine.
Macron made the comment to reporters a day after calling Zelenskiy’s surprise visit at the summit a “game changer”.
Shortly after Zelenskiy arrived in Japan, Russia claimed victory in Bakhmut. Hours before the claims from Moscow, Ukraine had rejected a claim by Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin that his Wagner fighters had completed the capture of the city.
During the first day of the summit on Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden endorsed training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets for the first time as leaders announced new sanctions on Russia.
Biden is planning to roll out a $375 million military aid package for Ukraine in Japan as well, according to a U.S. official. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the package will include artillery, ammunition and HIMARS rocket launchers.
Zelenskiy has pushed the countries to go further on both economic and military measures.
DISTRUST OF CHINA
Also on Sunday, Biden was set to meet with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to discuss, military interoperability and the economic coercion they face from China, a U.S. official said.
A day earlier, the G7 leaders outlined a shared approach towards China, looking to “de-risk, not decouple” economic engagement with a country regarded as the factory of the world.
The leaders noted that cooperation with China was necessary given its role in the international community and size of its economy, as well as areas of common interest such as climate and conservation efforts.
But they said they would take steps to protect sensitive technology that could threaten national security, without unduly limiting trade and investment.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told broadcaster ZDF on Sunday that the United States, Germany and other rich nations would make sure their big investments into China continue, as would supply chains and exports to China, but the G7 was sending a clear sign it was looking to pare back risk.
Macron said there was a desire to engage with China, but no naivety.
The communique also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, where Chinese military exercises has raised concerns over the security of Taiwan, the democratic, self-governed island that China regards as part of its territory.
China’s foreign ministry issued a complaint to Japan, the G7 host, and expressed its firm opposition to the G7 joint statement, saying it disregarded China’s concerns, had attacked it and interfered in its internal affairs, including Taiwan.
(This story has been corrected to add the dropped word “of” in paragraph 1)
This story originally appeared on Investing