The president of Ukraine is taking his diplomatic campaign against Russia to the G7 Arab summit

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed a summit of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia on Friday before a senior official said he would travel to Japan to meet with the leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies.

Zelenskyi has been traveling abroad in recent months to lend diplomatic support to Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s full-scale invasion nearly 15 months ago and to ask for more military support.

He returned earlier this week from a three-day trip to Italy, the Vatican, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Ukraine and Russia are preparing for a major and potentially decisive phase of the war as Kiev prepares for an expected counterattack. The conflict has escalated into a war that has raged amid bad weather in recent months.

Zelensky’s office said he was invited to the Arab League summit in Jeddah, where he met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before holding more bilateral meetings.

They discussed Zelensky’s peace plan, Ukraine’s security situation and possible investments for the country’s reconstruction, the presidential statement said. Zelensky also invited Prince Mohammed to Ukraine.

At the summit, Zelensky urged leaders to resist Moscow’s influence and consider his peace proposals, which include withdrawing Kremlin forces from occupied territories in Ukraine.

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“I am more than sure that none of you will agree to hand over a third of your country to the invaders,” Zelensky said in English.

“Another priority is the protection of the Muslim community in Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said. “Crimea was the first to suffer from the Russian occupation, and the majority of those oppressed in occupied Crimea are Muslims.”

Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev accompanied Zelensky to the visit.

Zelenskyy will later travel to a Group of Seven summit in Japan, where the leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies will seek to strengthen Russia’s punishment for its full-scale occupation of Ukraine, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Minister Oleksiy Danilov said. Advice.

But Danilov’s office later released a statement backtracking on his announcement and saying Zelensky would appear at the G-7 summit via video. Zelenskyy’s movements are kept secret for security reasons.

Meanwhile, Russian forces continued long-range bombing of Ukrainian targets, while drones reportedly damaged train lines behind their front lines.

About 130 meters of railway track was damaged and trains stopped for hours after an explosion derailed eight cars of a freight train carrying grain in the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula, Russian state media reported on Friday.

Thursday’s bombing raised new suspicions about possible Ukrainian saboteur activity behind Russian lines.

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Train traffic also stopped in the northern part of Crimea on Thursday evening after a drone crashed into a railway track near the town of Dzhankoy, the Russian Baza Telegram channel reported.

Sergei Akshonov, the Kremlin-appointed leader of Crimea, said in a separate post that four Ukrainian drones had been shot down in the northern part of the peninsula overnight. Aksyonov claimed that there was no damage or casualties.

Russia fired cruise missiles, drones and artillery across Ukraine overnight, killing two civilians, officials said Friday.

The attacks included an airstrike on Kiev for the second day running and the 10th in three weeks. Kremlin forces have also targeted central, eastern and southern Ukraine, as well as the western Lviv region near the Polish border.

Russia shot down 22 Iranian-made Shahed drones and six Kalibr cruise missiles overnight, the Ukrainian Air Force said. According to the announcement, the air defense shot down 16 drones and three missiles.

Two civilians were killed and nine wounded in the Russian shooting in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine, Governor Pavlo Kirilenko said.

According to a statement published on Telegram by the Ukrainian intelligence agency, the aim of the recently intensified missile attacks is to “disrupt Ukraine’s plans and preparations for active military operations of the spring-summer campaign.”

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The targets are Ukraine’s military control points and barracks, supply routes, and storage locations for ammunition, equipment, and fuel.

The United Nations said on Friday that grain shipping operations in Ukraine would “partially resume”, two days after Russia gave the green light to a two-month extension of the deal. The UN also urged the speedy return of the arrivals and departures of ships from all three Black Sea ports and the inspection of their cargo.

U.N. spokeswoman Stephanie Tremblay said the Joint Coordination Center, which includes representatives of the four parties to the agreement — Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the U.N. — approved the registration of six new ships in the grain transport on Friday. Nine participation applications are still pending, he said.

None of the three ports currently have ships loading, Tremblay said, but the center’s inspection teams on Friday inspected and cleared three new ships to proceed to the ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk.


Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.


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