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G7 summit: Leaders explore Russian oil price cap

June 27, 2022

G7 leaders are examining a new package of actions aimed at increasing pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared by video to appeal for more help.

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, US President Joe Biden, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and France's President Emmanuel Macron have taken seat at a round table as Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses G7 leaders
Zelenskyy appeared next to the round table where the leaders sat at Schloss ElmauImage: Tobias Schwarz/AFP

US and French officials confirmed that leaders at the G7 summit had made progress Monday on setting a price cap on Russian oil imports to curb Moscow's energy revenue.

News of plans for ramped-up sanctions affecting oil and Russia's military machine emerged as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the summit by videolink.

"The dual objectives of G7 leaders have been to take direct aim at [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's revenues, particularly through energy, but also to minimize the spillovers and the impact on the G7 economies and the rest of the world," Reuters news agency reported an official as saying on the sidelines of the summit.

As the summit talks got underway, the United States also said sanctions would target Russia's defense industry in a bid to hamper the effectiveness of the Russian military.

Zelenskyy appeared on a television screen next to leaders' round table at the secluded Schloss Elmau luxury hotel.

He asked the group for anti-aircraft defense systems, security guarantees, help on grain exports, further sanctions on Russia, and reconstruction aid, according to European officials. 

Zelenskyy was also reported as saying that he wanted a push to ensure Russia's war in Ukraine ends before the winter sets in.

Scholz: 'No going back' with Russian relations

German Chancellor Scholz gave a statement to reporters from Schloss Elmau on Monday evening, saying that there was "no going back to the time before the Russian invasion of Ukraine."

"All rules, all agreements that we had made with each other about how our states work together, have been broken," Scholz said. "In particular the understanding that borders cannot be changed with violence."

"All G7 members are ready to make the necessary decisions," he said, adding that they could best deal with the unknown challenges of the future by working together.

"It is good, important and necessary that we talk to each other. Listening to each other creates mutual understanding and makes our work easier," Scholz said.

The German chancellor also said that all G7 members had agreed to keep supporting Ukraine for the long term.

G7 issues statement on Ukraine

A G7 statement was also issued on Monday morning, shortly after Zelenskyy's appearance. It said the group was committed to "sustaining and intensifying international economic and political pressure on President Putin's regime and its enablers in Belarus."

"We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes," the G7 said.

The statement demanded the return of Ukrainian citizens taken to Russia against their will and said there could be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities. It also said Moscow must allow grain shipments to leave Ukraine to avoid a global food crisis.

The leaders added that some sanctions could target individuals responsible for war crimes or exercising illegal authority in Ukraine.

The G7 said leading economies would seek to provide safe passage for refugees from the country, including by streamlining immigration procedures and visa requirements.

It said the nations would explore ways to meet Ukraine's humanitarian needs, including recovery and reconstruction, and that this might include the use of Russian assets frozen as consistent with national laws.

Summit attendees discuss climate and 'just transition'

Members of the G7 held a meeting on Monday with the invited leaders of Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa which included discussions on phasing out emissions and protecting energy sources.

A statement following the meeting said the leaders had "agreed to work together to accelerate a clean and just transition towards climate neutrality while ensuring energy security."

No new concrete measures were announced, but further information may be provided at the end of the three-day summit.

Meanwhile, separately, one of the first announcements of the summit was a $600 billion (€568 billion) infrastructure initiative to help developing countries tackle climate change. The initiative is seen as the West's response to China's massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

Ahead of the summit, Chancellor Scholz called for a "climate club" to enable international cooperation on combatting climate change.

What the leaders said during talks

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz: "We are taking tough decisions, that we are also cautious, that we will help ... Ukraine as much as possible but that we also avoid that there will be a big conflict between Russia and NATO.''

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi: "We are united with Ukraine, because if Ukraine loses, all democracies lose. If Ukraine loses, it will be harder to argue that democracy is an effective model of government," Draghi was quoted as saying in comments sent by his office.

French President Emmanuel Macron said "very clearly that nothing that concerns Ukraine will be decided without Ukraine."

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the G7 must "continue to help the Ukrainians to rebuild their economy, to get their grain out, to export their grain, and, of course, we have to help them to protect themselves."

What else is left on the G7 summit agenda? 

Leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies began three days of talks in Germany's Bavarian Alps on Sunday with Russia's invasion of Ukraine likely to continue dominating the agenda throughout.

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States are present, along with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

Shortly before the summit began, London also announced in a statement that the UK, along with the US, Japan, and Canada, would ban new imports of Russian gold to tighten the economic effect of sanctions on Russia.

ab, rc/wmr (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)