Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to appear in person at the G7 summit scheduled to be held in Hiroshima, Japan, this weekend, The New York Times (NYT) reported on Friday citing several officials. He will make the trip to seek a continued supply of aid and arms to the war-torn country.
It is yet unclear when Zelensky will arrive in Japan but the summit will be attended by US President Joe Biden along with top leaders of several wealthy democracies including Japan, Germany, Canada, and Britain.
Bloomberg reported that Zelenskiy will fly on a US military plane to Japan after an expected stop in Saudi Arabia to attend the Arab League Summit.
Media reports have stated that the main point of discussions at the summit will be the ongoing war in Ukraine and the nations are expected to agree to work together on tracking Russian diamonds, among other things.
Last week, Zelensky visited several European capitals to ask for the delivery of arms. His trip to Berlin coincided with Germany announcing its largest aid package yet, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged support for a coalition to help provide Ukraine with Western-made fighter jets, though no concrete plans were set, the Bloomberg report added.
No public announcements have yet been made about Zelensky's in-person presence. Earlier, Ukrainian media had reported that he will attend the summit virtually.
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Who is Volodymyr Zelensky?
Zelensky has been the president of Ukraine since May 20, 2019. A former comedian and an actor with limited experience in politics had won a landslide victory in the country's presidential election in April 2019. Zelensky did not hold any positions in elective office before running for the post of president.
The world praised Zelensky's bravery and determination to serve his war-torn country during the Russian invasion in February 2022. The global community hailed his valour of not fleeing the country amidst the political mayhem and gained recognition as a wartime leader.
Born on January 25, 1978, in Kryvyi Rih, a Russian-speaking industrial region of south-eastern Ukraine to Jewish parents, Zelensky graduated with a law degree from the Kyiv National Economic University in 2000.
In 1997, he founded Kvartal 95 studio -- a television entertainment production company that produced many TV shows for years. Zelensky has worked in many films including -- Love in the Big City, Office Romance, Our Time, 8 First Dates, I, You, He, She, Svanty and Paddington.
In 2015, he starred in the television series "Servant of the People" where he played the role of an anti-corruption politician who eventually becomes the Ukrainian president.
He defeated Petro Poroshenko in a landslide victory in 2019 to become the sixth president of the country.
The Russia-Ukraine war
On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin had been building up troops and military on the country's border since October 2021.
In a public speech, Putin on February 21, 2022, recognised the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent from Ukraine. He said the Russian troops will go into Ukraine's territory as "peacekeepers".
Three days later, he announced that they will launch a "special military operation" in Ukraine. Just minutes after Putin's speech was aired, explosions were heard in major cities in Ukraine. Leaders across the globe condemned the attack and promised swift action and sanctions against Russia.
Most big companies have abandoned Russia and several oligarchs have been put under sanctions. But Putin has refused to stop the battle which has been going on for over 450 days now.
Why did Russia invade Ukraine?
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has irrevocably chosen the path of democracy, reforms and European integration. Several countries that emerged from the Soviet Union have already joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). But Ukraine and Georgia have not joined the organisation yet.
However, since 2014, Ukraine has repeatedly expressed its will to join Nato. But Putin is against this decision as he believes it will bring the European defence forces close to the border of Russia.
Reports have claimed that Russia has interfered in Ukraine's elections before too, to ensure that the candidates who are against Ukraine-EU integration win the top post in the country.
Moreover, several reports have also said that Putin looks at Ukraine as a critical part of "Mother Russia" and does not want Europeans to have any control over it.