In the face of war fatigue, Biden is pushing for Western unity in Ukraine
ELMAU, Germany >> President Joe Biden and Western allies today in the Bavarian Alps opened a three-day summit aimed at preventing the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine from shattering the global coalition working to punish Russia’s aggression . Britain’s Boris Johnson warned leaders not to give in to “fatigue” even as Russia launches new missiles at Kyiv.
The leaders of the Group of Seven should announce new import bans on Russian gold, the latest in a series of sanctions the Democracy Club hopes will further isolate Russia economically. They also looked at possible energy price caps to limit Russian oil and gas profits that Moscow can pour into its war effort.
And following a proposal from last year’s G-7 summit, Biden formally launched a global infrastructure partnership to counter China’s influence in the developing world. The initiative aims to mobilize $600 billion for global infrastructure projects by 2027 along with other G-7 countries. Around 200 billion dollars would come from the USA, said Biden.
US officials have long argued that China’s infrastructure initiative is dumping recipient countries into debt and that the investments are benefiting China more than their hosts.
In a show of force ahead of the summit, Russia launched its first missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital in three weeks, hitting at least two residential buildings, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.
Biden condemned Russia’s actions as “more of their barbarism” and stressed that allies must stand firm even as the economic aftermath of the war takes its toll on the world through inflation, food shortages and more.
“We have to stay together because Putin expected from the start that NATO and the G-7 would somehow fragment, but we didn’t and won’t,” Biden said at a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who chairs the rotating presidency held by the G-7 and hosting the meeting.
As the G-7 leaders sat down for their opening session, they delivered a light-hearted smack to Putin. Johnson was heard asking if he should keep his jacket on, adding, “We’ve got to show everyone that we’re tougher than Putin.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chimed in: “A bare-chested horseback ride.”
Over the years, the Kremlin has released several photos of the Russian leader in which he appears shirtless.
Biden and his colleagues used the gathering to discuss how to secure energy supplies and combat inflation caused by the aftermath of the war.
Leaders also met on the new global infrastructure partnership, which aims to offer an alternative to Russian and Chinese investment in developing countries. One by one, the leaders took to the microphone to discuss the partnership and their role in it – without mentioning China by name.
Ukraine cast a shadow over the gathering, but leaders were determined to project resolve.
Scholz told Biden that all the allies managed to “stay united, which Putin obviously never expected.”
Biden said of Putin’s war, “We cannot let this aggression take the form it is and get away with it.”
Scholz, who has been criticized at home and abroad for alleged reluctance to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, said: “Germany and the US will always work together when it comes to issues related to Ukraine’s security.”
For his part, Johnson urged his fellow leaders not to give in to “fatigue.” He has expressed concern that divisions could emerge in the pro-Ukraine alliance as the four-month-old war rages on.
Asked if he thinks France and Germany are doing enough, Johnson praised the “huge strides” Germany had made in arming Ukraine and cutting Russian gas imports. He didn’t mention France.
Biden and Scholz, at their pre-summit meeting, agreed on the need for a negotiated end to the Ukraine war but did not go into details on how to achieve that, said a senior Biden administration official, who asked not to be identified to reveal details a private conversation.
However, they did not have a lengthy discussion about oil price caps or inflation, the official said.
Other leaders echoed Biden’s praise for coalition unity.
The leader of the European Union’s Governing Council said the 27-strong bloc maintains “unwavering unity” in supporting Ukraine against the Russian invasion with money and political support, but “Ukraine needs more and we are committed to providing more.”
European Council President Charles Michel said EU governments are ready to provide “more military support, more financial resources and more political support” to help Ukraine defend itself and “contain Russia’s ability to wage war “ could.
The EU has imposed six rounds of sanctions on Russia, most recently a ban on 90% of Russian crude oil imports by the end of the year. The measure targets a pillar of the Kremlin’s finances, its oil and gas revenues.
Biden and the leaders of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan and the EU spent today in both formal and informal settings discussing the impact of the war on the global economy, including inflation .
Biden said G-7 countries, including the United States, will ban gold imports from Russia. A formal announcement was expected on Tuesday when leaders wrap up their annual summit.
Johnson said the ban will “hit Russian oligarchs squarely and hit the heart of Putin’s war machine.”
“Putin is wasting his dwindling resources on this senseless and barbaric war. He is funding his ego at the expense of both the Ukrainian and Russian people,” Johnson said. “We must starve the Putin regime of its funding.”
Gold has been Russia’s top energy export in recent years – hitting nearly $19 billion in 2020, or about 5% of global gold exports, according to the White House.
90% of Russian gold exports went to G-7 countries. More than 90% of these exports, or nearly $17 billion
Referring to the idea of energy price caps, Michel said: “We want to get into the details, we want to do the fine-tuning… to make sure we have a clear common understanding of what the direct impacts are and what the side-effects could be.” , if such a step were taken by the group.