Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is eager to participate in a Group of Seven summit online on Feb. 24, the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of the country, a Japanese government source said Thursday.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has invited Zelenskyy to the video summit, the source said. During the gathering, the G-7 leaders are expected to confirm their unity in tackling Russia's aggression against its neighbor.
The virtual meeting comes as Japan is consolidating relations with other G-7 nations with fears mounting that Russia will launch a large-scale attack on Ukraine in the spring, while Kishida is paving the way for the success of the summit in Hiroshima in May.
It will be the first G-7 summit hosted by Kishida. A similar gathering was held on Feb. 24, 2022, in which the group's leaders agreed to impose punitive economic sanctions on Russia.
In the envisioned online summit, the G-7 countries of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union, are likely to reaffirm cooperation in supporting Ukraine while condemning Russia, the source said.
The G-7 major industrialized nations have criticized Russia for attacking crucial infrastructure in Ukraine, including energy and water facilities, calling Moscow's actions "inhumane and brutal."
The G-7 leaders would also exchange views on how to stabilize global energy markets, which have been rattled since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, with oil and natural gas prices skyrocketing worldwide, the source said.
In January, meanwhile, the United States, Britain, Germany and other countries decided to provide advanced battle tanks to Ukraine.
In a related move, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Thursday that he will invite his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to an in-person G-7 ministerial meeting in Munich, Germany, on Saturday.
The G-7 gathering of top diplomats, the first under Japan's rotating presidency of the group this year, will take place on the fringes of the three-day Munich Security Conference through Sunday.
Kishida, a veteran lawmaker representing a constituency in Hiroshima, is scheduled to host an in-person G-7 summit for three days from May 19 in the western Japan city devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in August 1945.
At the meeting, Kishida plans to pitch his vision of a world without nuclear weapons amid concern that Russia could use one against Ukraine in the war.
Kishida has also expressed willingness to visit Ukraine for talks with Zelenskyy if the right conditions are met.
Among the G-7 nations, British, Canadian, French, German and Italian leaders have already visited Ukraine since the war began. In December, U.S. President Joe Biden held a summit with Zelenskyy in Washington.
But a Japanese government official said that it might be difficult to arrange Kishida's visit to Ukraine for security reasons, as ties between Tokyo and Moscow have been sharply deteriorating for the past year.
Ukraine has said Zelenskyy will consider visiting Hiroshima if Japan invites him to take part in the G-7 summit.
During the upcoming online gathering, the G-7 leaders may discuss whether to ask the president to join the in-person meeting in May, the source said.