G-7 Leaders Begin Summit, Agree to Use Seized Russian Assets for Ukraine Aid

June 14, 2024 by No Comments

The Group of Seven (G7) leaders convened their annual summit on Thursday, facing domestic challenges but united in their efforts to support Ukraine and counter China’s economic influence.

Diplomats revealed that a preliminary agreement has been reached to provide Ukraine with $50 billion in loans, utilizing frozen Russian assets following the 2022 invasion.

G7 nations expressed shared concerns regarding China’s excess industrial capacity, perceived as a distortion of global markets, and pledged their commitment to aiding African economic development.

“There is much work to be done, but I am confident that these two days will foster discussions leading to concrete and measurable outcomes,” declared Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, addressing her G7 counterparts at the start of the summit held in a luxurious resort in Puglia.

While Meloni enjoys a surge in popularity following her European election victory, other G7 leaders face domestic difficulties that threaten their authority.

U.S. President Joe Biden faces a challenging re-election campaign in November, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to lose power in next month’s national election, and French President Emmanuel Macron encountered setbacks in the recent European vote.

Amidst the blazing sun, the leaders exchanged smiles as they greeted Meloni at the entrance to the Borgo Egnazia resort, where they will spend the next two days in sessions that will later be expanded to include other leaders.

For the second consecutive year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will attend the summit, participating in talks on Thursday afternoon, followed by the signing of a new long-term security accord with U.S. President Joe Biden.

The G7 leaders are also poised to announce their agreement on the framework of a multi-year loan utilizing profits from seized Russian funds. Legal experts will finalize the details, aiming to raise funds by the year’s end.

“I believe we will have established the key principles, but some specific aspects will require further expert elaboration within a defined timeframe,” stated Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Advisor, regarding the discussions.

A senior EU official confirmed the existence of an outline agreement.

“I believe it’s finalized,” the official stated. “It should be in order. I don’t anticipate any opposition from the leaders.”

A source close to the talks indicated that the deal aims to ensure its longevity, regardless of future political changes within G7 nations. This addresses concerns that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, might be less supportive of Kyiv if he defeats Biden in November.

Sullivan highlighted Biden’s objective at the G7, which is to reinforce the idea that the United States benefits from close alignment with its democratic allies, particularly in light of the impending re-election battle.

Underscoring the United States’ commitment to punishing Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Washington significantly expanded sanctions against Russia on Wednesday. This included targeting Chinese companies supplying semiconductors to Moscow.

By imposing new restrictions on Chinese firms on the eve of the G7 meeting, Biden undoubtedly aimed to persuade Western allies to take a more assertive stance against Beijing’s support for Russia and its industrial overcapacity.

In advance of the summit’s commencement, Sullivan remarked that China holds substantial debt claims against numerous heavily indebted nations.

“The G7 communique is not specifically targeting or focusing on a single country,” he emphasized, but added that China should play a constructive role in addressing the debt burden.

Striving to avoid an image of exclusivity, the G7 has welcomed a significant number of external participants this year, including the pope, who will deliver an address on Friday concerning the risks and potential of Artificial Intelligence.

Among those invited to Puglia are the leaders of major regional powers such as India, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Algeria, and Kenya.

Although the summit is scheduled to conclude on Saturday, many G7 leaders, including Biden, are expected to depart on Friday night. Consequently, the final day has been allocated for bilateral meetings among those remaining and a concluding press conference by Meloni.