U.S. and Japan affirm their unwavering support for Ukraine

January 12,2023 572
U.S. and Japan affirm their unwavering support for Ukraine

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine was one of the priority issues on the agenda of the 2023 U.S.–Japan Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) meeting in Washington, D.C., attended by U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu on Wednesday.

The two countries affirmed their unwavering support for Ukraine and discussed next steps for providing assistance to Ukraine’s energy sector.

In their joint statement, the ministers “strongly condemned Russia’s brutal, unprovoked, and unjustifiable war against Ukraine. They recognized that Russia’s violation of the UN Charter and its attempts to unilaterally change borders by force, including through its ongoing aggression against Ukraine, present a serious security threat for the European region and shake the foundation of the international order. The Ministers condemned Russia’s reckless nuclear rhetoric and its attacks against civilian infrastructure, and they reiterated the need for Russia to be held accountable for its atrocities in Ukraine. The Ministers also highlighted with concern Russia’s growing and provocative strategic military cooperation with China, including through joint operations and drills in the vicinity of Japan.”

The United States “endorsed Japan’s efforts to finalize its NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program, and welcomed Japan’s enhanced emphasis on European security through its provision of assistance to Ukraine.”

At a joint news conference, Secretary Blinken said, “We stand together with Ukraine against President Putin’s war, which threatens the principles at the heart of the international rules-based order – including that all nations should be able to chart their own path, and have their sovereignty, their independence, their territorial integrity respected.”

“We’re working together with our G7 partners to impose coordinated sanctions on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine, and to help Ukraine repair, restore, and defend its embattled energy grid. We look forward to Japan’s leadership in driving an ambitious agenda on these and other priorities during its presidency of the G7 this year, culminating in the Hiroshima Summit,” he also said.

In an answer to a reporter’s question, Blinken reiterated that “even though that [Russian] aggression against Ukraine is happening in Europe, it has profound implications for countries around the world, including in Asia – because this is not only a challenge to Ukraine and the lives and livelihoods of its people, it’s a challenge to the entire international rules-based order and the very principles that underlie that order that are so important in every part of the world: sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, the right to shape your own future. That’s why Japan, from day one, has been such a strong partner with us and many other countries in seeking to uphold that order, whether it comes to Russia’s aggression or in any other areas.”

Foreign Minister Hayashi noted that the meeting participants had engaged in an “extremely meaningful exchange of views.”

“During the past year since the previous 2+2 meeting, Russia’s aggression of Ukraine, an event that shakes the foundation of international order, occurred, placing the international community at historical crossroads,” he said.

Hayashi outlined major outcomes of the meeting, inter alia saying that “[we] accused Russia for its reckless nuclear rhetoric and attacks against civilian infrastructure; and concurred to continue our strong support to Ukraine. In addition, we shared our concern over the enhanced military cooperation between China and Russia.”

Secretary Austin said, “We are focused on doing everything we can to help make sure that the Ukrainians have the capabilities that they need to be successful in their efforts to defend their sovereign territory. […] We’re going to conduct another Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting next week in Germany, where we’ll get 50 or so ministers of defense together to talk about what Ukraine’s needs are now and what they need to be successful going forward.”

“So you’ve heard us say over and over again that we’re going to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, and from everything that I can see from our allies and partners, they feel the same way. So we remain united in our efforts,’ Austin added.

Earlier, Nikkei reported that Japan, which holds the presidency of the G7 in 2023, was making arrangements for inviting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to participate online in the Group’s meeting to be held in Hiroshima in May.

Photo: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (center-right) and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) hold a joint news conference with Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (center-left) and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada (left) as part of the 2023 US-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting in Washington, DC, January 11, 2023 (Joshua Roberts / Reuters via Al Jazeera)