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Elmau, Germany
The leaders of the G7 group of wealthy nations came together in Bavaria’s luxury resort of Schloss Elmau on Sunday for the first of a three-day summit they hope will signal international unity in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Speaking after the first round of talks with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the United States, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pointed to “slowing economic growth, rising inflation, shortages of raw materials and disruption of supply chains.”
“These are all not small challenges that we are facing ... but I am very, very, very confident that we will succeed in sending a very clear signal of unity and decisive action from this summit,” Scholz said.
Scholz, who is hosting the summit as part of Germany’s G7 presidency, met with US President Joe Biden for a bilateral meeting before the start of group talks - which also included European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“I think we can get through all this and come out stronger,” Biden said of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a crisis seen as the most profound test of Europe’s security and stability in decades.
“Something that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has been counting on from the beginning is that NATO and G7 would splinter, but we are not going to - so thank you,” Biden told Scholz.
Proposals to jointly increase pressure on Russia, collect military and humanitarian support for Ukraine, and the impact of the conflict in driving energy and food prices sharply higher will be focal points at the summit.
EU Council President Michel blasted what he called Russia’s “hunger games,” saying the Kremlin was “solely responsible for the global food crisis causing suffering in the poorest countries and low-income households.” Russia was “blockading ports, attacking agricultural infrastructure, turning fields of wheat into fields of war,” Michel said.
The war in Ukraine, now in its fifth month, is preventing grain from leaving the country’s ports and making food more expensive across the globe, with experts and aid groups warning of a potential for famine in parts of Africa.
Moscow, however, blames Western sanctions for the food crisis.
German government sources told dpa that G7 leaders would discuss a price cap on oil to prevent Moscow from benefitting from price increases and protect oil-purchasing countries from the volatility likely to arise from an embargo on Russian oil going live at the end of the year.
Such a move would require Western countries to provide insurance for cargo ships transporting oil only to countries that agree to comply with the price cap. It would also be conceivable to prohibit shipping companies from transporting oil that exceeds the price cap or restrict their access to financial services, the sources said.
Biden said Sunday that G7 powers would ban the import of Russian gold in another bid to economically isolate Moscow for its invasion and degrade its ability to sustain its military operations.
The ban will impose “unprecedented costs on Putin to deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war against Ukraine,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
The US leader described it as a “major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia.” “The measures we have announced today will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meanwhile said in a statement.
Non-G7 democracies Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa have been invited to participate in select sessions at Schloss Elmau, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address delegates via video link.
All G7 leaders except Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will travel to Madrid after the G7 summit to attend a meeting of NATO leaders that will be instrumental in firming up defence policies in the wake of the invasion.
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