Another taboo falls on Western support for Ukraine. The US president, Joe Biden, has given the green light to the plan of several European countries to train Ukrainian pilots in the handling of “fourth-generation combat aircraft, including the F-16”. This training will be the prelude to effective delivery of the apparatus.
The go-ahead from Washington, which had been expected for days, came at the G-7 summit in Hiroshima. It was confirmed by official White House sources and it is very likely that Biden himself will offer more details from the Japanese capital this Saturday or Sunday. The announcement represents a relevant victory for Volodímir Zelenski, who will land in Hiroshima on Sunday, in a highly symbolic visit, to speak with the allies and once again defend his country’s cause before the world.
Washington and the European governments participating in the training program will wait a few months before making a final decision on who will deliver the planes to Kyiv and in what numbers. The important thing is that the decision to provide Ukraine with the devices has been made.
Manufactured by the American firm Lockheed Martin, with the F-16 it happens like with the German Leopard tanks. They are the planes that are most available, due to their abundance among the air forces of various countries and the existence of spare parts.
The news about the F-16s came on the same day that the G-7 agreed to tighten sanctions against Russia as punishment for its aggression against Ukraine. In a statement, the leaders of the seven richest democracies reiterated the condemnation of Russia for the invasion and the demand that it withdraw completely, without conditions, to the internationally recognized borders (those of 1991, when Ukraine became independent, including Crimea ).
In the text, the Russian rhetoric of threatening to use nuclear weapons and wanting to deploy them in Belarus is judged “dangerous and unacceptable”. The seven countries repeated their promise to continue helping Kyiv, now and in the reconstruction phase.
In the section on sanctions, the G-7 promised to extend them to all types of machinery, technology or services likely to serve the Russian military apparatus, and to increase pressure on third countries –indirect warning to China– whose companies may be helping to Moscow to dodge sanctions. according to the newspaper the worldthere are eight Chinese companies under fire for being suspected of re-exporting highly sensitive material such as semiconductors and integrated circuits.
“We have dramatically reduced our dependence on Russia for energy and raw materials,” the G-7 noted, adding that imports of metals will be further restricted. One thinks of copper, aluminum and nickel.
Restriction on Russian diamonds
A special chapter was dedicated to diamonds. “Russian diamonds are not forever,” ironized the president of the European Council, the Belgian Charles Michel. The planned restriction on the trade in Russian precious stones might seem anecdotal, but it shows the solid consensus to twist the arm of the Kremlin. Although it is estimated that Russia, the world’s leading producer, exported diamonds worth 5,000 million dollars in 2021, a respectable figure, more decisive than this veto is the will of the G-7 countries to deprive Russia of all the elements technological and industrial needs of its war machine.
Michel’s phrase was significant because Belgium, specifically the city of Antwerp, has been, for five centuries, the world center of trade in this natural product. According to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the 1,600 companies in the sector provide 6,600 direct jobs and 26,000 indirect jobs, so the impact of the measure will be painful.
In line with what was agreed by the Council of Europe at the recent Reikiavic summit, the G-7 gave its support to a record of war damage, for the eventual payment of compensation, and to move towards an international trial of the responsible for the attack.
The Hiroshima summit is not only focused on Ukraine but also on the strategy against China’s growing economic and military power. However, Ukraine is taking center stage in the media, especially after Zelenski’s decision to fly to Hiroshima, where he will be the star of the closing day on Sunday.
For the past few weeks, the Ukrainian president has been a veritable diplomatic globetrotter, with feverish activity, an unusual role for the leader of a country at war whose capital is the target of daily missile attacks. In the battle of the image, Zelenski seeks –and manages– to show the total contrast with Putin. A leader is greeted with hugs and solidarity wherever he goes, far from his country, in front of another who is afraid to move and lives with the paranoid mentality of the bunker.
This enormous Ukrainian effort to explain its cause and stir consciences is an essential factor that complements the preparations for the military counteroffensive. The moment of truth arrives. Kyiv and the countries that support it want to ensure that all actors know what is at stake and its consequences. It is not the same, after wars, to be in the camp of the victors than of the defeated.