HIROSHIMA, Japan – President Biden began an abbreviated trip to Asia on Thursday in Hiroshima, a city that symbolizes the horrors of armed conflict, for a summit with his allies that is expected to be dominated by discussions on how to better arm Ukraine as it embarks on its counteroffensive against the Russian invaders.
The meeting of leaders of the Group of 7 nations that starts on Friday comes at a critical moment for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his country and the core Western democracies that now have an urgent task to bring about what Biden calls the “strategic defeat”. of Russia in Ukraine.”
Mr. Biden often says that Russia is already defeated. But the fear permeating the seven major democracies here is that unless the counteroffensive proves highly successful, Ukraine will descend into a bloody, frozen conflict where the best hope would be a cease-fire, reminiscent of the one that halted the Korean War. Peninsula 70 years ago this summer.
It seemed almost impossible to imagine in 1997, when President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair invited Russia to become a full member of the group and expanded it – for almost two decades – to the G8. Russia was “suspended” after its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and withdrew from the group three years later.
Now, with his troops already trying to destroy Russian weapons stockpiles ahead of the counteroffensive, Mr. Zelensky just finished a series of rapid-fire visits to European capitals to shore up support for continued heavy spending on arms and aid. He is expected to address the leaders in Hiroshima virtually, but there have been discussions behind the scenes about whether to risk taking him to the other side of the world in person to make his case.
Either way, he will have a large audience. Apart from India, the leaders of Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam will all be there as guests. It is part of a broader strategy by Mr. Biden and his allies are pulling in nations that, to varying degrees, have been fence-sitting on the war, refusing to condemn Russia too harshly, to enthusiastically enforce sanctions or to supply arms to Ukraine.