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Zelenskyy planning surprise appearance as G7 leaders prepare new Russia sanctions



Ukraine's President Volodomyr Zelenskyy is planning to make a dramatic in-person appearance at this weekend's Group of Seven summit (G7) in Japan as he continues to appeal for military assistance amid Russia's invasion, according to an official familiar with the planning.

Officials declined to say exactly when Zelenskyy would arrive or detail his travel arrangements. Zelenskyy has been travelling outside his country more as the war grinds onward, including a tour of Europe last week.

The lengthy trip from Ukraine to Hiroshima, where leaders from the world's most powerful democracies are gathering, underscores Zelenskyy's desire to strengthen support 14 months into the war.

READ MORE: What will be top of the agenda when Anthony Albanese visits the G7

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will also touch down in Japan on Friday as a guest at the summit in Hiroshima.

Following the cancellation of the Quad meeting in Sydney next week, it's a crucial chance for Albanese to speak with some of Australia's closest allies.

He'll join US President Joe Biden and other leaders in Japan to hammer out new sanctions on Russia, even as US officials warned the bite of those measures could be dampened in the event of an American debt default.

The US said on Friday it would tighten export controls, including by "extensively restricting categories of goods key to the battlefield," and will announce nearly 300 new sanctions against "individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft."

Additionally, the US will place new designations across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and expand its sanctions authorities to further target Russia's economy.

READ MORE: Ukraine says it downed Russian hypersonic missiles

The United Kingdom said it will ban the import of Russian diamonds, as part of its latest sanctions against Moscow, Downing Street announced on Friday.

The move aims to restrict one of Russia's few remaining export industries that had been relatively untouched by the withering Western sanctions already in place.

Imports of Russian-origin copper, aluminium, and nickel will also be banned under the UK legislation, which will be introduced later this year, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

The Russian diamond industry was worth $US4 billion in exports in 2021, according to Downing Street.

Biden faces his fellow world leaders on Friday in Japan under the shadow of a looming default on US debt, a scenario his advisers said risks subverting American leadership and sending the global economy into tailspin.

The risk appears particularly acute as Biden works to rally fellow G7 officials behind a shared approach toward Russia and China.

On the first day of the summit talks, the group is expected to unveil a new tightening of sanctions on Moscow – a response to the invasion of Ukraine that relies on the strength of the American financial system.

The dangers of failed diplomacy were placed into sharp relief when leaders laid wreaths on Friday morning at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, the epicentre of the American atomic bomb dropped here in 1945 that wiped out the city and more than 100,000 of its inhabitants while hastening the end of World War II.

This year, the leaders of Australia, Brazil, Comoros, Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam are invited, as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stresses the importance of reaching out to developing countries in the so-called Global South and US allies and partners.

The invitations to leaders outside the G7 are meant to extend cooperation to a broader range of countries.

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