Hipkins bumps into Ukraine's Zelensky in corridor after official meeting canned

It's been a day of disappointment for both Chris Hipkins and Volodymyr Zelensky at the Nato summit with both having to make do with less than they wanted.

But in the end both leaders left with smiles on their faces - thanks to a chance moment in a corridor.

Of all the power-wielders and arms dealers, there was no mistaking the President-in-Chief of the NATO summit in Lithuania's capital.

Dressed in his army greens, Ukraine's president Zelenskyy wore the weight of war whatever his location and this was a battle on the frontline of diplomacy.

"Today the Ukrainian delegation is bringing home [a] significant security victory for Ukraine - for our country, for our people, for our children," Zelensky said.

Gone was the Day One anger that saw Zelensky label NATO “weak”.

Day Two was a room filled with friendships forged in tough talks.

Today we meet as equals, I look forward to the day when we meet as allies," said NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

Ukraine didn’t get a firm time frame for NATO membership, but the president was delivered a blockbuster security package courtesy of the G7 grouping of nations.

We're going to help Ukraine build a strong [and] capable defence across land, air, and sea," pledged US President Joe Biden.

The weapons were so free-flowing today - that Zelensky was even in the mood to joke when NATO's boss was asked when exactly Ukraine can expect the promised F-16 fighter jets to be delivered.

"You addressed me?" asked Zelensky.

Stoltenberg replied, "yes, go…"

"No no no - no answer please," Zelensky laughed.

A rare reprieve from the relentless seriousness of securing protection for his homeland.

"I thank everyone who made it possible."

President Zelensky has left his war-torn country to be here in person at the summit this year - a show of just how determined he is to have Ukraine’s pain and presence felt here, by those who can actually help

Chris Hipkins wants to help.

Ukraine's president Zelensky bumped into Chris Hipkins in a corridor at the NATO summit, after their official meeting was canned.
Ukraine's president Zelensky bumped into Chris Hipkins in a corridor at the NATO summit, after their official meeting was canned. Photo credit: Newshub.

He announced a package worth nearly $5 million for Ukraine today, to help clear land mines and ensure the security of nuclear power plants.

Hipkins would have told Zelensky about it in person at their planned meeting, except, Zelensky's slightly more valuable meeting ran overtime.

"We're going to make sure you get what you need," Biden told him.

Meanwhile Hipkins needed to catch his flight to Aotearoa and bailed on Zelensky, when they bumped into each other in the corridor.

"It was a brief conversation, an opportunity for me to reiterate our support," Hipkins told Newshub.

It's support that's much-appreciated, however small compared to offers from NATO countries.

"Thank you New Zealand," said Zelensky.

The 2023 summit over, but is it enough to ensure the war follows suit?