Zelensky Lands in Japan for G7 Summit, Seeking Military Aid

KYIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to embark on a series of trips abroad amid final preparations for a Ukrainian counter-offensive received support from some residents of the capital Kiev on Friday, just hours after he was attacked for the tenth time. this month.

The president’s recent trip — he visited four European capitals over the weekend and Saudi Arabia on Friday, and will attend a Group of 7 meeting in Japan this weekend — stood in stark contrast to much of the first year of the war, when Zelensky’s choice to remain in Ukraine became a symbol of defiance and solidarity.

Now, residents interviewed on the streets of Kiev said they were heartened by the warm reception Zelensky had received abroad at a time when continued support from allies was essential.

“I think it’s amazing, because he builds bridges between all countries,” said Neonila, a 76-year-old retired health worker, who, like many interviewed for this article, requested that only her first name be used for fear of retaliation.

At each stop on his diplomatic tour, Zelensky has worked to bolster support and call for more weapons in the fight against Russian aggression. His whirlwind trip to Germany, France and Britain last weekend garnered billions of dollars in new military aid.

“All her visits are ending on a positive note,” Neonila said as she shopped for vegetables at a downtown stall. “They give us something.”

While few people interviewed in kyiv appeared to oppose the trip, some questioned Zelensky’s motives.

Travel is good for the president’s ratings, said Liudmyla, 75, as she sat in the sun on a Kiev park bench with a friend.

“He is building an image for himself, for future elections,” he said.

Kateryna Papusha, who was sitting next to her daughter’s stroller in the park, said she supported the trip because some foreign leaders were unable or afraid to visit Ukraine.

“I support your visits abroad, because each visit is quite productive,” he said. “There are some agreements, some support, some help for Ukraine.”

Being close to someone involved in the fighting has made her pay special attention to announcements of new arms promises, Ms. Papusha added.

Most Ukrainian men have been barred from leaving the country since the war began, and the cost of nearly 15 months of fighting has been felt across the country. Volodymyr Pylypenko, 45, who was injured in fighting in eastern Ukraine, said Friday that he did not closely follow Zelensky’s movements.

“I am more concerned about the situation on our front,” he said, smoking a cigarette as he stood outside a hospital.

But that doesn’t mean he thinks a wartime president should stay, he said. Since a general is in command of the armed forces, he said, Zelensky can handle foreign policy.

“If he does something good for Ukraine, it’s just an advantage,” Pylypenko said.

Valentyna Horbachiova, 65, expressed a sense of urgency, saying the trips abroad were “very necessary at the moment”, especially given the recent attacks in kyiv.

“If you travel more and talk to the people above, maybe peace will be established here, maybe we will get support,” she said as she waited to pick up her grandchildren from school.

Zelensky staying in the capital out of solidarity would do no good, said Horbachiova, describing the “terrible” attacks she had witnessed from her 18th-floor apartment.

“What would change if he sits here? Wouldn’t they bomb us? she asked. “They would bombard us so much, maybe even more if they knew he was here.”