HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) -- President Joe Biden told allies Friday he was approving plans to train Ukrainian pilots on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, according to two people familiar with the matter, as leaders of the world's most powerful democracies worked to toughen punishments on Russia for its 15-month invasion of Ukraine.
The Group of Seven leaders are meeting in Hiroshima, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy set to take part in their summit on Sunday.
The green light on F-16 training is the latest shift by the Biden administration as it moves to arm Ukraine with more advanced and lethal weaponry, following earlier decisions to send rocket launcher systems and Abrams tanks. The U.S. has insisted that it is sending weapons to Ukraine to defend itself and has discouraged attacks by Ukraine into Russian territory.
The G7 leaders also used their summit to roll out a new wave of global sanctions on Moscow as well as plans to enhance the effectiveness of existing financial penalties meant to constrain President Vladimir Putin's war effort.
"Our support for Ukraine will not waver," the G7 leaders said in a statement released after closed-door meetings. They vowed "to stand together against Russia's illegal, unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine."
"Russia started this war and can end this war," they said.
Zelenskyy has consistently called for the supply of Western fighter jets to bolster his country's defenses against Russia's invasion, but has until now faced skepticism from the U.S. that they would turn the tide in the war.
Now, as Ukraine has improved its air defenses with a host of Western-supplied anti-aircraft systems and prepares to launch a counteroffensive against Russia, officials believe the jets could become useful in the battle and essential to the country's long-term security.
Biden's backing of training Ukrainian pilots on advanced fighter jets serves as a precursor to sending the jets to Ukraine for the first time. But decisions on when, how many, and who will provide the fourth-generation fighter jets will be made in the months ahead while the training is underway, Biden told leaders.
The F-16 training is to be conducted in Europe and will likely begin in the coming weeks. That's according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden's private conversations with allies.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said on national television that Zelenskyy would attend the summit.
"There will be very important matters decided there, so physical presence is a crucial thing to defend our interests," Danilov said Friday.
The Council later walked back those remarks, saying in a statement Zelenskyy would be joining the G7 summit in Hiroshima via video link. The resident's office would not confirm either way for security reasons, and his exact travel plans were not clear.
Zelenskyy announced Friday he had also opened a visit to Saudi Arabia, where Arab leaders were holding their own summit.
European allies in recent weeks have warmed to the notion of sending fighter jets to Ukraine, as have elements of Biden's Cabinet, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has emerged as a staunch advocate within the administration. Under export licensing rules, the U.S. needed to sign off on any allied effort to train Ukrainian pilots or to provide them with the jets.
The latest sanctions aimed at Russia include tighter restrictions on already-sanctioned people and firms involved in the war effort. More than 125 individuals and organizations across 20 countries have been hit with U.S. sanctions. The financial penalties have been primarily focused on sanctions evaders connected to technology procurement for the Kremlin. The Commerce Department also added 71 firms to its own list.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the Friday sanctions "will further tighten the vise on Putin's ability to wage his barbaric invasion and will advance our global efforts to cut off Russian attempts to evade sanctions."
In addition, new reporting requirements were issued for people and firms that have any interest in Russian Central Bank assets. The purpose is to "fully map holdings of Russia's sovereign assets that will remain immobilized in G7 jurisdictions until Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine," the U.S. Treasury Department said.
Russia is now the most-sanctioned country in the world, but there are questions about the effectiveness.
Maria Snegovaya, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said going into the summit that while G7 countries "deserve credit" for their sanctions, "Russia still maintains capacity to fight this war in the long term."
She added that war's costs are "easily manageable for Russia in the next couple of years at least, and the cumulative effect of sanctions is just not strong enough to radically alter that."
The G7 nations said in Friday's statement they would work to keep Russia from using the international financial system to prosecute its war, and they urged other nations to stop providing Russia with support and weapons "or face severe costs."
The European Union was focused on closing loopholes and plans to restrict trade in Russian diamonds, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, told reporters Friday.
Putin's nuclear threats against Ukraine, along with North Korea 's months-long barrage of missile tests and China's rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal, have resonated with Japan's push to make nuclear disarmament a major part of the G7 summit. World leaders Friday visited a peace park dedicated to the tens of thousands who died in the world's first wartime atomic bomb detonation.
G7 leaders and invited guests from several other counties are also scheduled to discuss today how to deal with China's growing assertiveness and military buildup as concerns rise that it could could try to seize Taiwan by force, sparking a wider conflict. China claims the self-governing island as its own, and its ships and warplanes regularly patrol near it.
The G7 includes Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Italy, as well as the European Union.