Global Courant 2023-05-19 15:30:17
A charismatic presence in his trademark green gear, Zelenskyy will presumably argue that the survival of his nation depends on a continued flow of money and advanced weaponry from the US and its allies.
Before leaving for Japan, Zelenskyy was in Saudi Arabia on Friday for the Arab League summit, seeking closer ties with countries outside the West. He will then go to a G-7 summit where agreement has already been reached on new steps to make the war even more expensive for Russia.
Biden attended a working lunch on Friday focused on the conflict — papers scattered on a round table with flags from each country in the background. In attendance were the leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Commission and the European Council.
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A subsequent joint statement by G-7 leaders included a series of new sanctions. To undermine the Kremlin’s wartime capability, the nations agreed to restrict exports to Russia, including industrial machinery, tools and technology.
“We will starve Russia of G-7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine,” the statement read.
“Our commitment to tightening the screws on Russia remains as strong as last year,” said a Biden administration official ahead of the summit, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak on the record .
But recent polls shows that Americans are tired of war and would like to see an end date.
Russia failed to quickly conquer its smaller neighbour, but has given no sign of a willingness to withdraw its troops. Kiev is not about to surrender either. Ukraine is preparing a counter-offensive to recapture occupied land and demonstrate the difference Western support can make on the battlefield.
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Biden, who last saw Zelenskyy in person three months ago during a surprise trip to Kiev, vowed at the time that the US would support Ukraine for “as long as it takes.”
That indefinite commitment will test the resolve and patience of Americans in an election season as the Biden administration spends billions to keep Ukraine in the fray.
The war will be an issue in the 2024 presidential race. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has stopped short of saying he wants Ukraine to win and told a recent CNN town hall that if elected, he will end the conflict within 24 hours by meeting Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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An unexpected domestic problem has entered Biden’s journey: The debt ceiling is fighting back in Washington.
Biden originally planned to visit Papua New Guinea and Australia as part of an effort to rally US allies and curb China’s growing influence in the Pacific. He canceled those parts of the trip so he could return to the White House on Sunday and resume talks about raising the debt ceiling and avoiding an unprecedented bankruptcy that could have global repercussions.
Biden left a group dinner a little early on Friday to get an update from his negotiating team, the White House said.
“It’s a small miracle that Biden went through with the trip to Hiroshima,” said Daniel Russel, former director of Asian affairs in the Obama White House. “I’m glad he did and we should all be praying for this[debt ceiling battle]to be concluded because the consequences would be devastating – and not just for the US. Everyone is concerned.”
In addition to sanctions, Zelenskyy has asked for advanced F-16 fighter jets to repel Russian forces. So far, the Biden administration has refused to deliver the planes out of concern that weapons that could reach Russian soil risk escalating the war. But the US has invited Ukrainian pilots to train on simulators to assess how long it would take them to learn how to fly the plane.
At the top, Zelenskyy gets another chance to get to the jets.
“It’s very helpful,” Russell said of Zelensky’s visit. “If the industrialized countries get tired of Ukraine before Russia gets tired of war and fighting, then there will be a big problem. Zelenskyy has been brilliant in making sure that the world sees the situation as it is, and that it doesn’t burn out and gets tired.”
The location of the summit symbolizes the deadly threat that is a daily concern for both Ukraine and Asian countries living in the shadow of nuclear-armed China and North Korea.
During World War II, the US leveled Hiroshima with a single atomic bomb. On Friday morning, Biden and his counterparts toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and met a woman who survived the attack.
In the park outside, the leaders laid wreaths and planted a tree overlooking the skeletal remains of a once domed building that Japan has preserved as a reminder of the bomb’s toll.
Daryna Mayer and Sally Bronston contributed.