G7 leaders round off summit, pledge tougher action against Russia

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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The leaders of the world’s richest democracies at a rally in Germany pledged to isolate Russia while taking a united stance to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” against the invasion of Moscow.

In their closing statement on Tuesday from the Group of Seven (G7) summit, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, along with the European Union, underlined their intention to reduce “serious and immediate economic costs” on Russia and explore far-reaching steps to cap the Kremlin’s revenue from the oil sales that financed the war now into its fifth month.

The communiqué did not provide key details about how the fossil fuel price caps would work in practice, sparking more discussion to “explore” measures to keep Russian oil imports above a certain level in the coming weeks. That would hit an important Russian source of income and, in theory, help alleviate the spikes in energy prices and inflation that have plagued the world economy due to the war.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to our unprecedented coordination of sanctions for as long as necessary, acting with unity at every stage,” the leaders said.

The price cap would theoretically work by preventing service providers such as shippers or insurers from dealing with oil priced above a fixed level. That could work because the service providers are usually in the EU or UK and thus within the scope of sanctions.

However, to be effective, it would need to involve as many consuming countries as possible, especially India, where refineries pick up cheap Russian oil shunned by Western traders.

G7 leaders

The participants also agreed on a ban on importing Russian gold and an increase in aid to countries facing food shortages due to blocking Ukrainian grain shipments through the Black Sea.

Before the summit concluded, leaders condemned the “appalling” Russian attack on a shopping center in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, called it a war crime, and promised that Russian President Vladimir Putin and others involved “will be held accountable”. †

On Monday, leaders also pledged to support Ukraine “as long as necessary” after consultations via video link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy is openly concerned that the West has become fatigued by tcoststf of a war, contributing to rising energy costs and price hikes for essential goods worldwide. The G7, which sought to alleviate these concerns, condemned the “Russian war of aggression” in Ukraine and said it “dramatically exacerbated the global hunger crisis”, putting some 323 million people at risk of food insecurity.

The rich countries have pledged an additional $4.5 billion to tackle global hunger while calling on Russia to “end the blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports” and other actions that have hampered Ukraine’s grain production and export.

The G7 also called on countries and companies with “large food stocks” to “make food available without disrupting markets”.

Most important NATO summit

From the small Schloss Elmau hotel in the Bavarian Alps, G7 leaders will move to Madrid for a summit of NATO leaders, where the Russian invasion of Ukraine will once again dominate the agenda.

All G7 members – except Japan – are NATO members, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has been invited to Madrid.

On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the Western military alliance would increase the size of its rapid response forces nearly eightfold, from about 40,000 soldiers to 300,000, as part of its response to an “era of strategic competition”.

With other measures, including deploying troops to defend specific allies, Stoltenberg said expanding NATO forces is part of the “biggest collective defense and deterrence overhaul since the Cold War”.

While the G7 annual meeting was dominated by Ukraine and the effects of the war, host and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had to show that the bloc could also move forward with its pre-war priorities.

Group members pledged on Tuesday to create a new “climate club” for countries looking to take more ambitious measures to tackle global warming. The club is open to countries that have committed to the 2015 Paris agreement to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Scholz, who led the proposal, said it would allow countries to accelerate climate action and avoid competitive disadvantages.

“We agree that we need more ambition to achieve our climate goals,” Scholz told reporters at the end of the summit. When countries develop national strategies to decarbonize their economies, “we want to make sure we don’t antagonize and isolate ourselves from each other,” he said.

However, environmentalists have criticized the club as vague in details and unnecessary, saying there are already enough international platforms for climate cooperation.

With no firm commitments to set a minimum carbon price or impose sanctions on non-compliant members, Scholz’s pet project risked becoming “just another club,” said Martin Kaiser, executive director of Greenpeace Germany.

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