Munich Conference Reinforced Solidarity Against Russia’s Outrageous Acts

It is highly significant that the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations gathered to show solidarity ahead of the one-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Japan’s responsibility has also become even greater.

The meeting of the foreign ministers was held in the German city of Munich, the first such meeting under Japan’s presidency of the G7 this year. The countries agreed to strengthen sanctions against Russia and to continue support for Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also participated in the meeting, expressing gratitude for the G7’s support so far as well as hope for further help.

In the chairman’s statement issued after the meeting, the foreign ministers urged Russia to unconditionally withdraw all forces and equipment from Ukraine and respect Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty.

The G7 has imposed various sanctions against Russia in the areas of finance and trade over the past year, but an end to the war is nowhere in sight. The prolonged invasion has caused prices to skyrocket, especially in the West, and “support fatigue” for Ukraine is spreading.

However, the G7 must not ease sanctions and put Russia in an advantageous position. It is important for the G7 to unite to clearly send a message that Moscow’s outrageous actions will not be tolerated and to expand solidarity throughout the international community.

Japan needs to do its part, leading G7 discussions.

Western countries are expanding their military assistance to Ukraine, including the decision to provide powerful tanks. Japan, however, is restricted regarding exports of equipment that can kill or injure under the Self-Defense Forces Law and the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, limiting Tokyo’s cooperation on the military front.

Japan must strengthen its support in non-military areas.

The government has provided power generators as wintertime assistance. Earlier this year, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) trained Ukrainian government officials in sweeping for landmines. The private sector is also providing assistance in such forms as raising donations and providing temporary housing for displaced people.

Local needs should be examined, and detailed efforts made by the public and private sectors.

In Germany, the Munich Security Conference on diplomacy and security was also being held. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi was among the more than 800 government officials from various nations, including leaders and cabinet members, that attended the conference and participated through such means as giving speeches.

During the conference, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said, “We are also troubled that Beijing has deepened its relationship with Moscow,” looking to check China’s conciliatory attitude toward Russia. In response, Wang Yi, a member of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo and China’s top diplomat, said that “we have not sat idly by” over the issue of the invasion.

If China does not deal harshly with Russia’s ongoing invasion, the international community’s trust in Beijing will not rise. As a major power, China must fulfill its responsibilities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 20, 2023)