The G7 summit in Japan has left its leaders “more united, more resolved and more determined” to face the world’s challenges, US President Joe Biden said on Sunday.
Speaking at the conclusion of the three-day meeting in Hiroshima, the American leader was strident in his support for Ukraine while condemning Russia’s aggression.
He also confirmed that the US would begin training Ukraine pilots on the F-16 jets which could prove a major factor in the country establishing air supremacy over Russia with support from G7 countries.
“The meetings I've had with my fellow G7 leaders have left us more united, more resolved and more determined to set up for the greater progress in the months ahead,” Mr Biden told a press conference. “This has been an extremely significant and important summit.”
Following a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in which a further $375 million dollars in military aid was pledged, Mr Biden emphasised the bloc’s willingness to support Ukraine.
“The G7 reaffirmed our shared and unwavering commitment to stand with the brave people in Ukraine, as they defend themselves against Russia's brutal war of aggression and the war crimes being committed,” he said.
After almost 452 days of fighting, and at least 200,000 casualties on the Russian side alone, he called on President Vladimir Putin to stop the conflict.
“Russia started this war and Russia could end it today by withdrawing its troops from Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders and ceasing its assault,” he said.
As Kyiv prepared for a major counter-offensive, Mr Zelenskyy returned from Hiroshima with the pledge that he would receive advanced F-16 combat jets that could prove a significant boost to defeat Russia.
“I assured President Zelenskyy … that we will not waver,” Mr Biden said. “Putin will not break our resolve as he thought he could.
“We’re going to begin training Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including F-16 to strengthen Ukraine’s air force as part of a long-term commitment to Ukraine's ability to defend itself.”
The 80-year-old leader also addressed America’s fractious relationship with China, marked by clashes over trade, Taiwan and more recently spy balloons.
“We're not looking to decouple from China, we're looking to de-risk and diversify our relationship with China.”
He argued that the US should not be dependent on Chinese supply chains and resist economic coercion. “It means protecting a narrow set of advance technologies critical for our national security,” he added.
Despite the “silly balloon” incident, in which the spy devices were shot down over the US earlier this year, he expected relations with Beijing to “thaw very shortly”.
Mr Biden added that his visit to the Hiroshima peace memorial, which commemorates the atomic bomb dropped in 1945, was a “powerful reminder of the devastating reality of nuclear war”.
He said the G7 had reiterated its commitment to a world “free from the threat of nuclear weapons”.
The G7 is a bloc of industrialised democratic economies – the US, UK, Japan, Canada, France, Germany and Italy – that meets annually.