G7 pledges renewed solidarity with Ukraine, more Russia sanctions

Leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States say they will continue to support Ukraine for ‘as long as it takes’.

zelenskyy ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses G7 leaders by video link. [File: Kenny Holston/The Associated Press]

The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), composed of the world’s wealthiest democracies, have promised to “stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes” amid the ongoing invasion by Russia.

The leaders, who met for a second day of a summit in a German castle in the Bavarian Alps on Monday, said in a joint statement they will continue to “provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support” to Ukraine.

They also pledged to continue “sustaining and intensifying international economic and political pressure” on the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin “and its enablers in Belarus”.

The leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States released the statement after hearing from Russian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via video link.

The Ukrainian president “gave a very clear response that now is not the time for negotiations” with Russia, the French presidency said following the meeting.

In the joint G7 statement, the leaders pledged to “explore new ways to isolate Russia from participating in the global market” and crack down on evasions. That came shortly after US President Joe Biden said on Sunday the G7 planned to ban the import of Russian gold.

The US and other Western countries have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia since its February 24 invasion of Ukraine

The participants at the meeting also pledged to “further reduce dependency on Russian energy”, with a senior US official telling reporters earlier in the day that the G7 countries were working to “develop mechanisms to set a global price cap for Russian oil in shipments to countries outside of the US, EU, the UK, and the broader G7”.

For his part, Zelenskyy, writing on his Telegram channel after addressing the G7 heads, said sanctions “must be further strengthened, by limiting the prices of oil exported by the aggressor”.

Among the other punitive pledges, the G7 said their governments would explore ways to use increased tariffs on Russian goods to “assist Ukraine where applicable”; expand targeted sanctions to further restrict “Russia’s armament industrial base and technology sector”; and sanction “those responsible for war crimes, exercising illegitimate authority in Ukraine, and responsible for “stealing and exporting Ukrainian grain”.

The promises came after Bloomberg News reported on Monday that Russia had defaulted on its foreign currency sovereign debt for the first time in more than a century when the grace period on some $100m of interest payments due Sunday had expired.

The Kremlin said the “claims about default” were “absolutely wrong”, adding that it could not make payments because of the Western sanctions imposed against it.

The G7 also used the communique to call on Russia to allow grain shipments to leave Ukraine to avoid exacerbating a global food crisis.

The statement said Moscow must “cease, without condition, its attacks on agricultural and transport infrastructure and enable free passage of agricultural shipping from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.”

The group also voiced “serious concern” over Putin’s plan to send missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus.

“We urge Russia to behave responsibly and exercise restraint, and reiterate that any use of such weapons would be unacceptable and met with severe consequences,” the leaders said.

The G7 gathering is set to be followed by a NATO leaders-level summit in the capital of Spain, Madrid, later in the week.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies