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Zelensky to G7: 'We need a clear global leadership of democracy'

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 21, 2023 12:32 PM 3 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky poses for a photo with the G7 leaders, as well as European Union officials, during the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 21, 2023. (President's Office)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the G7 leaders at a summit in Hiroshima on May 21, saying that "we need a clear global leadership of democracy" to strengthen global security.

Speaking at the three-day-long summit in Japan, where Zelensky was extended a non-member invitation, he told the G7 leaders that cooperating with Ukraine has shown other countries what the response would be if one decides to invade another.

"There have been attempts in the world to ignore and despise what we value," Zelensky said. "But now it is impossible. Now our power is growing. And anyone who can wish for aggression against a democratic country can see what the response will be."

"And the more we cooperate with you, the less likely it is that anyone else in the world will follow Russia's crazy path," he added.

Zelensky said Ukraine proved wrong Russia's impunity claim about hypersonic missiles when the country's air defense, bolstered by Western air defense systems, shot them down in May.

"You and I together proved that the question is not how many missiles our common enemy has, but how many air defense systems we have," Zelensky said. However, he added that an "air shield" to protect Ukrainians from Russian air attacks can only be completed when modern aircraft arrive in the country.

"We are now on the path to closing the opportunity gap," he said, as more Western leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, show readiness to cooperate together to train Ukrainian pilots on modern fighter jets such as F-16s.

"When our pilots know the F-16 and when these machines appear in our skies, it will be important not just for Ukraine," Zelensky said.

"This will be a historic moment for the entire security architecture in Europe and the world," he added before addressing each leader with a special message.

President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with the G7 leaders, as well as European Union officials, during the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 21, 2023. (President's Office)

A few days earlier, Biden signaled that he would authorize a third-party transfer of the F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine – which needs U.S. approval given the sensitive U.S. technology incorporated in the aircraft. He supported the international fighter jet coalition and reportedly told G7 leaders that he supported a joint initiative to train Ukrainian pilots on modern fighter jets, including F-16s.

The shift in the U.S. position regarding the F-16s comes after Ukraine has spent months pleading for Western fighter jets to better protect its people from Russian air strikes and to ramp up its attacks on the battlefield.

During the speech, Zelensky also thanked the G7 leaders for supporting Ukraine's peace plan, which he said was "an obvious expression of rationality."

Before visiting Hiroshima for the G7 Summit, Zelensky traveled to Saudi Arabia and addressed the Arab League, calling on Arab leaders – most of whom remain neutral or hold close ties with Moscow – to support the Ukrainian peace formula.

"We are doing everything to unite the whole world around the peace formula - around the peace summit, which will give impetus to the implementation of the formula," Zelensky said.

US announces $375 million in military aid for Ukraine, as Zelensky meets Biden in Japan
The U.S. Department of Defense on May 21 announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $375 million, aimed to help Ukrainian forces “push back against Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression.”
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