#VOA. | G7 summit in Germany: import ban on Russian gold

The leaders of the G7 countries set the tone for their summit, which begins Sunday in southern Germany, and will be largely devoted to the war in Ukraine, by announcing to extend sanctions against Moscow to the import of Russian gold.

This is the first signal of support for Ukraine from the meeting which formally begins at midday, in the Bavarian Alps where US President Joe Biden landed on Saturday evening.

United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Japan have announced to extend sanctions against Moscow to the import of Russian gold. France, Italy, Germany – the other three members of the G7 – will rally to this embargo affecting “a major export which brings in tens of billions of dollars to Russia”, tweeted Joe Biden.

“These measures will directly hit the Russian oligarchs and attack the heart of Putin’s war machine”, assured British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Russia exported nearly 15 billion euros worth of gold in 2021 , according to Downing Street.

The West has already taken several rounds of sanctions against Russia, whose war against Ukraine has entered its fifth month.

This conflict and its repercussions will occupy a large part of the G7 discussions until Tuesday with the first talks devoted on Sunday to the global economic turbulence, from the threats of food shortages to galloping inflation, passing the energy crisis.

Elmau Castle, with its spectacular views of the peaks of the Bavarian Alps, provided an enchanting setting for the seven leaders, but world events left them little time to appreciate it.

Do not “give up” Ukraine

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, host of the G7, recalled it before the summit: support for Ukraine will require “perseverance”, because “we are still a long way” from peace negotiations between kyiv and Moscow.

It is important that this summit, which will be followed by a NATO meeting in Madrid, “sends a signal of unity”, explains Berlin.

Several explosions sounded in kyiv on Sunday at dawn, as Russia progresses in its conquest of Donbass, in the fifth month of the offensive launched by Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who will speak by videoconference on Monday, is expected to again request the shipment of heavy weapons.

Boris Johnson urged G7 leaders not to “abandon Ukraine” on the eve of the summit, warning against any “fatigue” in supporting kyiv.

The gold embargo is a new “illustration of the type of measures that the G7 can take collectively to isolate Russia and cut it off from the world economy”, commented on Sunday a senior American official.

Joe Biden also wants to demonstrate to his allies that standing up to Russia and facing China are complementary, not opposed, objectives.

In particular, the G7 wants to counter China and its “new silk roads” by investing massively in the infrastructure of disadvantaged countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A project on which the leaders will take stock on Sunday.

Weakened leaders

The leaders of Indonesia, India, Senegal, South Africa and Argentina have also been invited to this annual summit as Westerners seek to broaden the front of united democracies against the threat of a bloc formed by Russia and China.

These emerging economies are also particularly exposed to the risk of food shortages, the explosion of energy costs aggravated by the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis.

Climate actors expect concrete progress from the G7, including “planning” for the complete elimination of fossil fuels.

On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators marched, without notable incident, in the streets of Munich, a hundred kilometers from Elmau, to demand stronger action in favor of the climate.

Bilateral discussions will complete the sessions, starting on Sunday morning with a meeting between Germany’s Olaf Scholz and Joe Biden, two leaders in difficult positions in their own countries.

The German Chancellor has thus seen his popularity drop in recent months, for lack of showing firm support for kyiv. He is betting on this G7 to restore his image in Germany and abroad.

The American president faces an even more fractured America after the Supreme Court challenged the right to abortion, in a country hit hard by high inflation.

Emmanuel Macron, their French counterpart failed a week ago to obtain an absolute majority and will have to deal with other parties, an unprecedented obligation for him. As for Mr. Johnson, weakened by the “Partygate”, he saw his party lose two local elections this week and seems on borrowed time.

Source: VOA-AFP.

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