Japan is hoping to hold a Group of Seven summit online on Feb. 24, the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, government sources said Wednesday, as the Asian country is the chair of the G-7 this year.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering inviting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the video summit, the sources said. During the gathering, the G-7 leaders are set to confirm their unity in tackling Russia's aggression against its neighbor.
The virtual meeting would come as Japan is consolidating relations with other G-7 nations with speculation growing 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 would be the first G-7 summit hosted by Kishida. A similar gathering was also held on Feb. 24, 2022, in which the leaders of the group agreed to impose punitive economic sanctions on Russia.
At the envisioned online summit, the G-7 countries of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union, are expected to reaffirm cooperation in supporting Ukraine, while condemning Russia, the sources said.
The G-7 major industrialized nations have lambasted Russia for attacking crucial infrastructure in Ukraine, including energy and water facilities, calling Moscow's actions "inhumane and brutal."
The leaders are also likely to discuss how to promote private sector support for the Eastern European country, the sources said.
In December, meanwhile, the G-7 members and Australia, one of the closest U.S. security allies, introduced a price cap on Russian crude oil to squeeze Moscow's key source of revenue as economic punishment for its ongoing war against Ukraine.
The G-7 leaders would 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 across the world, the sources said.
In January, the United States, Britain, Germany and other nations decided to provide advanced battle tanks to Ukraine. Kishida will make a final judgement on whether to hold the G-7 video summit in consideration of the situation in Ukraine, they said.
Kishida, a veteran lawmaker representing a constituency in Hiroshima, is scheduled to host a G-7 summit in person for three days from May 19 in the western Japan city that was 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 consider visiting Ukraine for talks with Zelenskyy if the right conditions are met.
Among the G-7 countries, 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 relations between Tokyo and Moscow have been sharply deteriorating for the past year.
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