G7 Summit | New sanctions against Moscow and a new partnership

(Schloss Elmau) The heads of state and government of the G7 countries set the tone for their summit in Bavaria, which was mainly dedicated to the war in Ukraine, by announcing on Sunday the extension of sanctions against Moscow and calling for unity. A $600 billion infrastructure investment was also announced.

Posted at 12:14pm
Updated at 1:01 p.m

Valerie LEROUX
Media Agency France

This is the first sign of support for Ukraine from the meeting, which began around noon against the magnificent backdrop of the Bavarian Alps.

“Together, the G7 will announce that we will ban Russian gold, a key export source that will deprive Russia of billions of dollars,” US President Joe Biden tweeted.

The seven major powers (Germany, US, France, Canada, Italy, Japan, UK) will formalize their commitment at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, but Washington, London, Ottawa and Tokyo are already there and already assembled.

This embargo on newly mined gold in Russia, without targeting gold already sold, “will hit the Russian oligarchs squarely and attack the heart of Putin’s war machine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asserted.

A “Global Infrastructure Partnership”

The G7 also on Sunday unveiled a huge investment program for developing countries aimed at mobilizing $600 billion and responding to the huge projects funded by China, American President Joe Biden announced Sunday.

“With G7 partners, we want to mobilize 600 billion dollars for global infrastructure investments by 2027,” said the White House shortly before a speech by Mr. Biden, who presented the proposal at the seven summit in southern Germany’s industrialized countries.

The American President assured that this program is based on “shared values” such as “transparency” but also respect for workers’ rights, the environment and gender equality.

“We offer better opportunities,” he said against the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps.

Neither the US President nor the other leaders mentioned China’s name, but they made obvious allusions to it.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, therefore took the view that the partner countries of the West had “the choice” – implicitly: instead of going to Beijing to the democracies – to expand their power grids or their medical infrastructure.

Westerners want to distance themselves from China, which has invested heavily in a number of developing countries to build infrastructure through the so-called “New Silk Road” program or to secure access to certain raw materials.

Beijing has been accused of conducting its projects via unprofitable, opaque loans – hence the “transparency” promised by the G7 on the contrary – frankly dangerous, which would exacerbate the debt problems of already vulnerable countries.

The “Global Infrastructure Partnership” (Global infrastructure partnership) must “provide quality and sustainable infrastructure” according to the same source.

The G7 “has set itself the goal of making the world a better offer for infrastructure investments,” emphasized Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who presented the project together with the American President.

The United States alone promises to “mobilize” about “$200 billion” for this program over a five-year period.

But this verb “mobilize” does not mean that the states themselves will provide these enormous sums. Washington comes up with a total of $200 billion by combining loans, public financing – some of which already exists – and private financing sponsored by the US executive branch.

With these big numbers still uncertain and these good intentions, can Westerners reverse the trend in the face of China? The United States wants to believe it.

The Chinese offensive “has been going on for years and has resulted in a lot of cash payments and a lot of investments,” a senior White House official said Sunday, “but it’s really not too late,” he assured of the G7 initiative.

“Many countries that have received funds or investments from the BRI program (acronym for the English name Belt and Road Initiative) now realize years later that they are more indebted than their GDP has not improved significantly,” said the same source, who asked not to be named.

“Sub-Saharan Africa will clearly be a key priority” of the G7-launched partnership, said this senior official.

Danger of “fatigue”

The West has already imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia, whose war against Ukraine is entering its fifth month.

But the Ukrainian government is demanding more after the Russians attacked Kyiv on Sunday morning, an act of “barbarism” Mr Biden denounced.

Faced with the risk of “tiredness” in the Western camp, mentioned by Boris Johnson, the American President has launched a new call for G7 and NATO unity against Moscow.

Vladimir Putin hoped “that somehow NATO and the G7 would split up. But we didn’t do it and we won’t do it,” assured Mr. Biden before an interview with Olaf Scholz.


PHOTO KENNY HOLSTON, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Starting counterclockwise from the top of the table: US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (hidden), European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (hidden), European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi , Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The summit host, the German Chancellor, also hailed the unity of the allies, which “Putin did not expect”, and called on each country to “share the responsibility” to face the growing challenges of this conflict, which is evolving in the duration.

As Russian troops advance in Donbass, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will intervene via video conference on Monday.

Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron “agreed that this was a critical moment for the development of the conflict and that it was possible to reverse the course of the war,” according to a UK government spokesman.

No “now” negotiated solution

However, the British Prime Minister warned against any attempt at a negotiated settlement “now” in Ukraine at the risk of prolonging “global instability”.

In front of the spectacular panorama of the Alpine peaks, the bosses dropped their ties for the traditional family photo, a short breather before several work sessions.

The conflict and its aftermath will occupy a large part of the discussions, with the first interviews devoted to global economic turmoil, from looming food shortages to runaway inflation, including the energy crisis.

Joe Biden also wants to show his allies that opposing Russia and opposing China are complementary, not opposing, goals.

In particular, the G7 wants to counteract China and its “new Silk Roads” by investing massively in the infrastructure of disadvantaged countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A project that those responsible will take stock of 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 posed by a bloc formed by Russia and China.

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

Climate actors are awaiting concrete progress from the G7, including “planning” for a complete fossil fuel phase-out. An emergency that Greenpeace wants to commemorate with a banner on the Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany that dominates Elmau.

Bilateral talks round out the sessions, starting with the meeting between Olaf Scholz and Joe Biden, two leaders in difficult positions in their own countries.

The German Chancellor is betting that this G7 will restore his waning popularity in recent months without showing firm support for Kyiv.

The US President faces an even more fragmented America after the Supreme Court challenged abortion rights in a country hit hard by high inflation.

Frenchman Emmanuel Macron failed to secure an absolute majority in the French National Assembly a week ago and will have to contend with other parties, an unprecedented commitment for him. As for Mr Johnson, weakened by the ‘Partygate’, he saw his party lose two local elections this week and appears to be on borrowed time.

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