Japanese Prime Minister Kishida will visit Ukraine to meet Zelensky

Hong Kong (CNN) Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will make a surprise trip to Ukraine on Tuesday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — a day later. Chinese President Xi Jinping He met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

in person He has already left India, where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and is now on his way to Ukraine, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

NHK reported that it was the first time since World War II that a Japanese prime minister had visited a country or region that was still at war. It will be the first visit to Ukraine by an Asian member of the G7 group and the first by a US ally in the region.

The dual visits by Kishida and Xi underscore deep divisions in Northeast Asia over the Ukraine war, with Japan pledging substantial aid to Kiev while China is a lone voice in support of an increasingly isolated Putin — now a global pariah and suspected war criminal.

With China’s growing assertiveness and global reach, Japan and the United States have moved closer in recent years, particularly in regional security and intelligence cooperation.

Japan is also a member of the Quad, an informal security-focused group that includes India, Australia and the United States.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Japan’s foreign ministry said Kishida’s visit to Ukraine was at Zelensky’s invitation and Kishida will return to Japan on Thursday.

During the visit, Kishida will “directly convey our solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine” and “resolutely reject Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” the statement said.

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Kishida, who warned last year that “today’s Ukraine could be tomorrow’s East Asia,” has spoken forcefully against Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor.

Last month, Japan marked the one-year anniversary of the invasion He pledged $5.5 billion Humanitarian aid to Ukraine quadrupled Tokyo’s previous contributions.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not only a European matter, but a challenge to the rules and principles of the entire international community,” Kishida said at the time.

During a visit to New Delhi on Monday, Kishida announced a new plan to invest $75 billion in the Indo-Pacific region, Reuters reported. .

Xi meets ‘dear friend’ Putin

The Japanese leader is expected to visit Ukraine follows Xi’s controversial state visit to RussiaHis first day of talks since the invasion began began on Monday.

Xi’s visit has been framed by Beijing as a peace-building project — despite deep suspicions in Kyiv and the West.

For the United States and much of Europe, the Chinese leader’s presence in Moscow is seen as a resounding endorsement of Putin at a time when his military is running out of supplies and Russia’s economy is struggling under Western sanctions.

Throughout the invasion, China supported Kremlin rhetoric that blamed NATO for the conflict, refused to condemn the invasion, and continued to support Moscow financially by significantly increasing purchases of Russian fuel.

India is the only Asian country to take a similar stance, refusing to formally condemn Russia’s invasion and continuing to buy Russian oil.

Modi told Putin last September India continues to maintain key ties with Moscow — in apparent criticism that this is not the time for war.

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During his visit on Monday, Xi praised Putin and called him “”dear friendThey discussed the war in Ukraine, and meetings were scheduled for Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported after his trip to Moscow last week that Xi planned to speak with Zelensky, citing “people familiar with the matter.”

It was the first time the two leaders had spoken since Russia launched its invasion.

Ukrainian, Chinese and US officials have all declined to confirm a possible virtual meeting.

CNN’s Emi Jozuka contributed reporting.

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