G7 agrees to step up sanctions on Russia
Leaders of the world richest democracies yesterday agreed to stiffen sanctions against Russia and pledged financial support for Ukraine as its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, prepared to join them in the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
The Group of Seven leaders are also expected to address growing tension between their economies and China during their summit that runs until Sunday. Officials said Zelensky would attend in person over the weekend.
The leaders said in a joint statement existing measures against Russia would be broadened and any exports that could help it in its 15-month war against Ukraine would be restricted across the G7 countries.
"This includes exports of industrial machinery, tools, and other technology that Russia uses to rebuild its war machine," they said in a joint statement, adding that efforts would continue to restrict Russian revenues from its trade in metals and diamonds.
Amid evidence that existing sanctions were being weakened by circumvention, they said the group was "engaging" with countries through which any restricted G7 goods, services or technology could transit through to Russia.
"We note and encourage commitments made by these countries to ensure our measures are not circumvented and have the intended effect," they said, without naming any territories.
Breakdowns of German trade data show that its exports to countries bordering Russia have risen sharply, fuelling concerns that about the re-exportation of goods from those neighbouring states.
The group of rich democracies reaffirmed their condemnation of what they called Russia's aggression and promised further support for Ukraine, in terms of military help and financial aid for its war-shattered economy this year and next.
The members of the G7 - the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Italy – also called for a "world without nuclear weapons," urging Russia, Iran, China and North Korea to cease nuclear escalation and embrace non-proliferation, a statement released by the White House showed.
Russia's nuclear rhetoric and stated intent to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus "are dangerous and unacceptable," and Russia should return to full implementation of New START treaty, the leaders said in the statement.
Meanwhile, Ukraine said yesterday Russian forces were trying to recapture land they had lost around the devastated eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, but that Ukrainian troops were repelling the attacks.
Deputy Ukrainian Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said the Russian forces had gained some ground inside Bakhmut itself in fierce fighting but did not control the city.
"The enemy is trying to regain what they have lost... but our forces are repulsing the attacks," she said in televised remarks. "It's very difficult to carry out combat missions there and every metre (of advance) is like 10 kilometres in other conditions."
She said the Russian forces had made "some progress" inside Bakhmut but did not say how far forward they had advanced.
The head of Russian mercenaries fighting in Bakhmut said the city was unlikely to fall in the next two days. Ukrainian soldiers, he said, were holed up in a makeshift "fortress" in the south of the city.