By ZEKE MILLER, DARLENE SUPERVILLE and GEIR MOULSON – Associated Press
ELMAU, Germany (AP) — President Joe Biden and his Western allies opened a three-day summit in the Bavarian Alps on Sunday in a bid to prevent the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine from fracturing the global coalition that is working to punish Russian aggression. Britain’s Boris Johnson has warned leaders not to give in to “fatigue” even as Russia launches new missiles at Kyiv.
Leaders were due to announce new bans on Russian gold imports, the latest in a series of sanctions that the Club of Democracies hopes will further isolate Russia economically. They were also examining possible price caps on energy intended to limit Russian oil and gas profits that Moscow could inject into its war effort.
Biden officially launched a global infrastructure partnership on Sunday designed to counter China’s influence in the developing world. The initiative aims to mobilize $600 billion with other Group of Seven countries by 2027 to spend on global infrastructure projects.
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U.S. officials have long argued that China’s infrastructure initiative traps host countries in debt and with investments that benefit China more than their hosts.
Russia, in a pre-summit show of force, launched its first missile strikes against 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 barbarity” and stressed the need for allies to stand firm even as the economic repercussions of the war have economic consequences around the world.
“We have to stick together, because Putin was counting from the beginning that NATO and the G-7 would somehow break up, but we haven’t and we’re not going to. do it,” Biden said at a pre-summit. meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who holds the rotating presidency of the G-7 and hosts the gathering.
As the G-7 leaders sat down for their opening session of the summit on Sunday, they took a light swipe at Putin. Johnson could be heard asking if he should keep his jacket on, adding: “We all have to show that we are tougher than Putin.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chimed in: “A shirtless horseback ride.
Over the years, the Kremlin has released several photos of the Russian leader in which he appears shirtless.
Biden and his counterparts were using the meeting to discuss how to secure energy supplies and tackle inflation triggered by the fallout from the war. The leaders were also meeting in a new global infrastructure partnership intended to provide an alternative to Russian and Chinese investment in the developing world.
Scholz told Biden that the “good message” is that “we all managed to stick together, which Putin did not expect”, a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sent his army from the other side of the border with Ukraine at the end of February.
“We can’t let this aggression take the form it has and get away with it,” Biden added.
Scholz, who has been criticized at home and abroad for his perceived reluctance to send heavy weapons to Ukraine, said “Germany and the United States will always act together when it comes to issues of security of Ukraine”.
Johnson, for his part, urged his fellow leaders not to give in to “fatigue”. He expressed concern that divisions could emerge within the pro-Ukrainian alliance as the four-month war continues.
Asked if he thought France and Germany were doing enough, Johnson hailed the “tremendous progress” made by Germany in arming Ukraine and reducing imports of Russian gas. He did not mention France.
Biden and Scholz agreed on the need for a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine, but did not elaborate on how to achieve it, said a senior Biden administration official, who requested the anonymity to reveal details of a private conversation.
However, they did not have an in-depth discussion on the oil price cap or inflation, the official said.
Other leaders echoed Biden’s praise for coalition unity.
The head of the European Union’s Council of Governments said the 27-member bloc maintains “unshakable unity” in backing Ukraine against Russia’s invasion with money and political support, but that ” Ukraine needs more and we are committed to providing more”.
European Council President Charles Michel said EU governments were ready to provide “more military support, more financial means and more political support” to enable Ukraine to defend itself and “limit Russia’s ability to wage war”.
The EU has imposed six rounds of sanctions against Russia, the latest being a 90% ban on 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 Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, as well as the EU, spent Sunday in formal and informal settings discussing the effects of the war on the global economy, including inflation, and on infrastructure.
Biden, who arrived in Germany early on Sunday, said G-7 countries, including the United States, would ban gold imports from Russia. A formal announcement was expected on Tuesday as the leaders hold their annual summit.
Senior Biden administration officials have said gold is Moscow’s second-biggest export after energy, and banning such imports would make it harder for Russia to participate in global markets. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details ahead of the announcement.
Johnson said the ban “will hit Russian oligarchs directly and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine.”
“Putin is wasting his dwindling resources on this useless and barbaric war. He is funding his ego at the expense of the Ukrainian and Russian people,” Johnson said. “We must deprive the Putin regime of its funding.”
Gold in recent years has been Russia’s top export after energy – reaching nearly $19 billion, or around 5% of global gold exports, in 2020, according to the White House.
Of Russian gold exports, 90% went to G-7 countries. More than 90% of these exports, or almost $17 billion, were exported to the United Kingdom. The United States imported less than $200 million in gold from Russia in 2019, and less than $1 million in 2020 and 2021.
Regarding the idea of energy price caps, Michel said: “We want to go into detail, we want to refine…to make sure that we have a clear common understanding of what the effects are. direct and what could be the collateral consequences” if such a step were to be taken by the group.
Leaders were also expected to discuss how to sustain climate change commitments while addressing critical energy supply needs brought about by the war.
“There is no watering down of climate commitments,” John Kirby, spokesman for Biden’s National Security Council, said on Saturday as the president flew to Germany.
Superville reported from Telfs, Austria and Moulson from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.
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