Joe Biden speaks next to other world leaders during the G7 leaders’ summit in Bavaria, Germany, on Sunday. Reuters
Leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers are set to commit themselves to the long haul in supporting Ukraine as they meet in the German Alps and confer by video link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The G7 leaders will begin Monday’s session of their three-day summit with a focus on Ukraine. Later, they will be joined by the leaders of five democratic emerging economies — India, Indonesia, South Africa, Senegal and Argentina — for a discussion on climate change, energy and other issues.
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The war in Ukraine was already at the forefront of the G7 leaders’ minds as they opened their summit at the secluded Schloss Elmau luxury hotel on Sunday — just as Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for the first time in weeks.
US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has been counting on, from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G7 would splinter, but we haven’t and we’re not going to.” Britain’s Boris Johnson warned the leaders not to give in to “fatigue.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting. File photo
On Monday, they have the opportunity to demonstrate that unity to Zelensky and reaffirm their commitment to supporting Kyiv financially and otherwise.
Biden hopes to use his trip to Europe to proclaim the unity of the coalition pressing to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as much as he is urging allies to do even more — seeking to counter doubts about its endurance as the war grinds into its fifth month.
The summit’s host, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said last week that he wants to discuss the outlines of a “Marshall plan for Ukraine” with his G7 counterparts, referring to the US-sponsored plan that helped revive European economies after World War II.
With the war still in progress and destruction mounting by the day, it’s unlikely to be a detailed plan at this stage. Scholz has said that “rebuilding Ukraine will be a task for generations.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the media in Kyiv. File photo
The G7 already is committed to help finance Ukraine’s immediate needs. Finance ministers from the group last month agreed to provide $19.8 billion in economic aid to help Kyiv keep basic services functioning and prevent tight finances from hindering its defense against Russian forces.
A senior US administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations between the G7 leaders, said the US and Europe are aligned in their aims for a negotiated end to the conflict, even if their roles sometimes appear different.
Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron have tried to facilitate that through active conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelensky, while also supplying weapons to Ukraine. The US has largely cut off significant talks with Russia and aims to bolster Ukraine’s battlefield capacity as much as possible so that its eventual position at the negotiating table is stronger.
The endurance of the tough sanctions on Russia may ultimately come down to whether the G7 and other leaders can identify ways to ease energy supply issues and skyrocketing prices once winter hits, as they seek to disengage from Russian sources of fuel.