Russia’s response to war in Ukraine dominates G7 summit | G7

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Western leaders ended the three-day G7 summit in Germany by vowing to increase the economic and political costs for Vladimir Putin and his regime from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

German Chancellor and G7 President Olaf Scholz made the vow at a closing press conference where he said the group was united and unbreakable, adding: “It is important to stand together to that over the long distance, which is definitely going to be necessary.”

As the summit comes at the same time as an attack on a kindergarten in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and a missile strike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk killed at least 18 people, leaders hope the summit demonstrated the determination, unity and practicality required to weaken the Russian president’s war machine. Scholz said the rest of the world is watching Putin’s brutal assault on Ukraine’s civilian population.

However, disagreements at the top continued until the end over the question of finding a way to reduce the flow of money to the Kremlin from Western consumption of Russian energy. Germany fears that a cap on the price of oil or gas could lead to a complete cut off of Russian energy supplies and a European industrial collapse. Others, especially Americans, say the plan is achievable.

The G7 said it would “take immediate action to secure energy supply and reduce price spikes caused by extraordinary market conditions, including exploring additional measures such as price caps.”

The wording helps further work on complementary US oil price cap ideas and an Italian gas price cap plan. Russia has already warned of retaliation if the West tries to manipulate energy prices below market level.

G7 leaders said they were moved by video chat with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he called on the group to help end the war by winter, reflecting the attrition soldiers are experiencing Ukrainians are facing and the belief that heavier weapons can help regain the ground that is gradually being lost in the Donbass. A G7 leader said: “Zelenskiy has shown courage and realism about what lies ahead.

Boris Johnson, who entered the summit warning that Russia is set to annex more Ukrainian lands if the status quo in the balance of power continues, appeared slightly more optimistic that those who had called for a speedy settlement have been appeased and that it has been accepted, a sustained battle awaits us.

French President Emmanuel Macron – sometimes seen as the most committed man to a future long-term relationship with Russia – said the G7 would support Ukraine for as long as necessary. He was unrestrained in his criticism of Russian attacks on civilians, saying the strike on the Kremenchuk trading center was a war crime and that Russia should not win the war.

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The final statement said: “We will stand by Ukraine for as long as necessary, providing the necessary financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support in its courageous defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

He also pointed out that the G7 has pledged and given $29.5bn (£24.1bn) in budget support this year.

The confirmation that the United States will provide a state-of-the-art surface-to-air missile defense system was probably the most significant tangible development in terms of practical aid.

At a summit normally dominated by the topics of the climate crisis, food security, global debt and pandemics, it was striking how little high-level discussions focused on these issues, even though the 28-page statement addressed Scholz’s personal plan to form a “climate club” by the end of the year dedicated to achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Other stated climate goals were “a highly decarbonized road sector by 2030, a fully or mostly decarbonized electricity sector by 2035, and prioritizing concrete and timely action towards the goal of accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired household energy.

The wording gives Japan leeway regarding when it will achieve the goal of zero-emission vehicles, and also allows some flexibility for overseas fossil fuel investment.

On food security, the G7 offered an additional $4.5bn (£3.7bn) – well below the UN World Food Program target.

Max Lawson, head of inequality policy at Oxfam, said the funding was just a fraction of the minimum needed of an additional $28.5billion (£23.3billion): “Faced with the worst hunger crisis for a generation, the G7 simply failed to take the necessary action. As a result, millions of people will face terrible hunger and starvation.

“Instead of doing what is necessary, the G7 is starving millions and cooking the planet.”

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