Japan Must Provide Long-Term Support to Ukraine

By Koya Ozeki / Bureau Chief, General Bureau of Europe
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited frontline locations as much as possible to rouse troops since the start of the Russian invasion in February last year.

Zelenskyy gave passionate responses during an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday.

Ukraine has managed to hold off the Russian onslaught through the unity of its people and strong support from the international community.

It was awe-inspiring to spend an hour listening to the wartime leader, who commands the full respect of not only the Ukrainian people but also the international community.

As the interview was held only two days after Zelenskyy’s summit with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, talk mainly focused on relations with Japan.

There was some disappointment in Ukraine regarding Kishida’s offer of support in the form of “non-lethal equipment” as the Ukrainian military is in need of weapons and ammunition.

However, Zelenskyy praised Japan’s plan and repeated his words of appreciation, indicating he understands the steps Japan has taken to seek peace.

Regarding the prospect of peace negotiations, Zelenskyy stated that Russian troops first “have to withdraw from our territory.”

Meanwhile, in Japan there is hope for a swift realization of a peace deal with Russia.

Zelenskyy stressed that a pause in the conflict might not mean an end to the war. “People will be killed, and everything will be destroyed again,” Zelenskyy said.

A suspension of hostilities now might work to Russia’s benefit, as Moscow is seeking to render the occupation irreversible. The negative impact on the international order would be immeasurable.

Even though a solution to end the war is yet to appear, Japan, the United States and European countries must work with Zelenskyy and continue to offer Ukraine long-term support.