Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised countries have used a summit in the Japanese city of Hiroshima to offer continuing support for Ukraine against Russia and agreed to take tough action against “economic coercion” from China.
The meeting was dominated by the unannounced attendance of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who compared the Russian destruction of Bakhmut to the devastation of Hiroshima in 1945.
“I’ll tell you openly: Photographs of ruined Hiroshima absolutely remind me of Bakhmut and other similar settlements. Nothing left alive, all the buildings ruined,” he said after laying a wreath at a memorial to the victims of the atomic bomb dropped by the United States. “The ruins of our cities which have been burned to the ground by Russian bombs and artillery are similar to that I have just seen here. It was an honour to me to be at this museum of peace.”
The leaders of the US, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan said they would support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” to bring a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace”. They urged Russia to immediately withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire internationally-recognised territory of Ukraine. “We commit to continuing our security assistance to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s aggression, tailoring our support to Ukraine’s needs,” they said.
The G7 leaders were joined in Hiroshima by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo. All three leaders have called for a negotiated peace but have declined to join western powers in supporting Ukraine’s war effort.
Mr Zelenskiy had bilateral talks with Mr Modi and Mr Widodo but a meeting with Mr Lula could not be arranged, officially because of scheduling difficulties, amid reports that the Brazilian leader was blindsided by the Ukrainian leader’s presence at the summit.
The leaders said they were ready to build constructive relations with China, and that their policy was not to thwart China’s rise nor to “decouple” economically from it.
“At the same time we recognise that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying. We will take steps, individually and collectively, to invest in our own economic vibrancy. We will reduce excessive dependencies in our critical supply chains,” they said. “We will foster resilience to economic coercion. We also recognise the necessity of protecting certain advanced technologies that could be used to threaten our national security without unduly limiting trade and investment.”
Beijing rejected what it described as smears and said the G7 was hindering international peace and undermining regional stability in the Indo-Pacific. But US president Joe Biden told reporters after the summit that he expected relations with China, which were damaged by a row over a spy balloon earlier this year, to improve soon. “I think you’re gonna see that begin to thaw very shortly,” he said.