Britain’s support for Ukraine will “never diminish,” Rishi Sunak promised after his meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky at the G7 summit in Hiroshima.
The prime minister said he was glad the group of allies agreed on the importance of providing Ukraine’s president with the advanced military equipment he needs to develop F-16 fighter jets.
Mr. Zelenskyy will address leaders of the major Western democracies at meetings on Sunday.
He’s on track to gain a boost by donating advanced jets after US President Joe Biden allowed Western allies to transfer them to Kiev.
Mr Sunak updated Mr Zelenskyy on the “very positive progress” on fighter jets when they met in the Japanese city, Downing Street said.
In a statement, Mr Sunak said: “The G7 was once the G8 – Russia was expelled in 2014 for the illegal annexation of Crimea and flagrant violations of human rights and the rule of law.”
“Nine years later, it is an incredibly powerful message to have my friend and President of Ukraine Zelenskyj with us in Hiroshima today.
“It shows the world that the G7 stand with the Ukrainian people in the face of a terrible onslaught. And it shows that brute force and oppression will not triumph over freedom and sovereignty.
“From providing Challenger tanks to long-range missiles and pilot training, UK support for Ukraine’s defense will never falter.
“I am pleased that the G7 have agreed on the importance of providing President Zelenskyy with the advanced military equipment he needs to win this war and thrive as a free and democratic nation.”
The couple met for a warm, informal meeting on Saturday after Mr. Zelenskyj landed in Japan.
“Nice to see you,” the Prime Minister said, patting him on the shoulder after they exchanged a hug. “You managed.”
When asked by reporters if it was a good day for Ukraine, Mr Zelenskyi smiled, nodded and said “Thank you”.
Mr. Zelenskyi tweeted: “Peace will come closer today.”
G7 leaders vowed to support Ukraine “for as long as necessary,” increasing the cost to Russia and those supporting its war.
They also used their joint statement to express criticism of China, saying they remain “seriously concerned” about the aggression against Taiwan.
In a report on Mr Sunak’s meeting with the Ukrainian leader, No. 10 said: “The Prime Minister updated President Zelenskyy on the very positive progress made at the G7 so far, including new sanctions against Russia and the deployment of warplanes.”
“Leaders looked forward to continuing talks with G7 countries and other partners on supporting Ukraine and addressing Russia’s destabilizing and illegal behavior.”
Moscow warned that the “escalation” entailed “enormous risks” for the countries involved.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the Tass news agency: “We see that Western countries continue to cling to an escalation scenario that poses enormous risks for them.”
“We will definitely take it into account in the planning.
“We have all the means necessary to achieve our goals.”
Mr. Biden told his allies at the Hiroshima conference that he would give legislative approval to allow the US-made planes to be donated to Kiev.
The US President, who is attending the G7 summit along with fellow members France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada and the EU, also announced training for Ukrainian pilots.
The prime minister welcomed the decision and urged his allies to provide the Ukrainian president with the fighter jets he requested.
Mr. Sunak tweeted: “Ukraine, we’re not going anywhere.”
The RAF has no US-made F-16s. Washington must legally authorize their export.
Mr Zelenskyj met India’s Narendra Modi on Saturday and may get in touch with Brazilian Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Both have not backed Ukraine like their western allies.
Neither are G7 members, but India is represented at the summit as it holds the current G20 presidency, while Brazil was invited as a guest.
Mr Sunak will meet Mr Modi on Sunday before addressing the media at a press conference.