It is an image that is surprising. On Saturday May 20, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Japan to participate in the G7 - a summit to which he was invited - aboard a French presidential plane. This same plane had already served him just before to go to the summit of the Arab League.
On his Twitter account, French President Emmanuel Macron proudly confirmed the presence of Volodymyr Zelensky in "a plane in the colors of the French Republic" in the direction of Hiroshima (Japan), where the G7 summit is being held. “The Ukrainian delegation [is] came to the G7 to work with us and our partners,” said the head of state. But why did the Ukrainian president travel on an official French plane?
According to the Élysée contacted by Le Figaro, this request comes directly from the Ukrainian presidency. It was made Thursday, May 18. "We said yes," explains the Elysée. The Air Force Airbus A330 therefore flew to pick up Volodymyr Zelensky at the Polish border and take him first to Saudi Arabia, where he spoke on Friday before the Arab League summit. Then from there to Japan and the G7. Still according to the Élysée, France accepted Kiev's request because Emmanuel Macron is the leader who has known Volodymyr Zelensky for the longest time, among all the heads of state and government present in Hiroshima. "Emmanuel Macron received President Zelensky at the Elysée even before he was elected," the same source told Le Figaro. There is therefore a relationship of trust” between the two men.
At the end of the summit, the Ukrainian president will also leave on board an official French plane, without the return flight plan having been revealed for the time being. When Volodymyr Zelensky went to Paris last week, the idea of his coming to the summit of his main allies was already “in the conversation”, notes an adviser to Emmanuel Macron. But there was no question of logistics yet.
Beyond this material question, Volodymyr Zelensky's two speeches to Arab countries, some of which he accuses of "closing their eyes" to the conflict and to Brazil and India present at the G7, " are a unique opportunity” for Ukraine, according to Emmanuel Macron. "I think it can be a game-changer," he insists. This is therefore a diplomatic interest. Added to this is an obvious security aspect: attacking a French plane, a nuclear power, would be particularly inappropriate.
Already in mid-May, during the visit of the Ukrainian president to Paris, Volodymyr Zelensky had traveled from Germany on board a French plane.