The ongoing war in Ukraine will move from being an distant conflict to something more tangible for the leaders of the world’s seven wealthiest democracies on Monday with an address by the embattled country’s president.
Volodymyr Zelensky said he’s going to tell G7 leaders that despite their efforts to arms his country and to isolate the regime of Russia President Vladimir Putin, more needs to be done — and fast.
Even though allies moved swiftly to impose an unprecedented range of sanctions, Russia’s economy has proven resilient, mostly because countries — including India — have stepped up to buy discounted oil from Moscow.
“This confirms that sanctions packages against Russia are not enough, that Ukraine needs more armed assistance, and that air defence systems — the modern systems that our partners have — should be not in training areas or storage facilities, but in Ukraine, where they are now needed,” Zelensky said in an address to his people on Sunday.
One of the people listening to his address on the margins of the G7 on Monday will be Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of the global leaders who has not spoken up forcefully about the invasion.
Modern weapons, Zelensky said, are needed in Ukraine more than anywhere else in the world.
Ukraine has taken delivery of a handful of rocket-based artillery from the United States and Britain, with promises of additional systems from Germany.
It has fielded 155 millimetre towed howitzers from the U.S., Canada and other allies, but Ukrainian defence officials and some in Zelensky’s office are asking for more and better systems, including 500 tanks.
Trudeau, Zelensky spoke on Sunday
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held what was described as impromptu call with Zelensky on Sunday, ahead of the Ukrainian leader’s address, where they spoke about “ramping up pressure on Russia,” according to a readout of the call provided by senior officials.
Trudeau filled in Zelensky on the kind of discussions that went on at the Commonwealth Summit late last week, where Canada and Britain tried to convince reluctant members of the organization of mostly former British colonies to get more firmly behind Ukraine and to condemn Russia.
The Commonwealth’s final communiqué did not contain a full-throated denunciation of Moscow’s invasion, although it did “note” the United Nations resolution from March which took Russia to task.
Zelensky also tweeted about the phone call and said the two spoke about further military cooperation.
The war in Ukraine has consumed a lot of political oxygen and time for the G7 leaders, who appeared at times to be struggling to put other initiatives in the spotlight.
The U.S. launched on Sunday what is known as the Partnership for Global Infrastructure, a multi-billion dollar program meant to help low-income countries build roads, bridges and airports to improve their economies. It’s meant to be a rival to China’s so-called Belt and Road initiative.
Beijing’s colossal infrastructure investments is said by its supporters as having the possibility of ushering in a new era of trade and growth for economies in Asia and beyond. But skeptics believe that China is laying a debt trap for borrowing governments.
“Let communities around the world see themselves and see for themselves the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies,” U.S. President Joe Biden said after announcing the plan.
“Because when democracies demonstrate what we can do, all that we have to offer, I have no doubt that we’ll win the competition every time