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Biden on Ukraine: Must Stay Together   06/26 08:35

   President Joe Biden on Sunday praised the continued unity of the global 
alliance confronting Russia, as he and other heads of the Group of Seven 
leading economies strategized on sustaining the pressure in their effort to 
isolate Moscow over its months-long invasion of Ukraine.

   ELMAU, Germany (AP) -- President Joe Biden on Sunday praised the continued 
unity of the global alliance confronting Russia, as he and other heads of the 
Group of Seven leading economies strategized on sustaining the pressure in 
their effort to isolate Moscow over its months-long invasion of Ukraine.

   Biden and his counterparts were meeting to discuss how to secure energy 
supplies and tackle inflation, aiming to keep fallout from the war from 
splintering the global coalition working to punish Moscow. They were set to 
announce new bans on imports of Russian gold, the latest in a series of 
sanctions the club of democracies hopes will further isolate Russia 
economically over its invasion of Ukraine.

   Leaders also were coming together in a new global infrastructure partnership 
meant to provide an alternative to Russian and Chinese investment in the 
developing world.

   "We've got to make sure we have us all staying together," Biden said during 
a pre-summit sit-down with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who holds the G-7's 
rotating presidency and is hosting the gathering. "You know, we're gonna 
continue working on economic challenges that we face but I think we get through 
all this."

   Scholz replied that the "good message" is that "we all made it to stay 
united, which Putin never expected," a reference to Russian President Vladimir 
Putin, who sent his military across the border into Ukraine in late February.

   "We have to stay together, because Putin has been counting on, from the 
beginning, that somehow NATO and the G-7 would splinter, but we haven't and 
we're not going to," Biden replied, as he and Scholz sat on a terrace that 
overlooked the picturesque Bavarian Alps.

   "We can't let this aggression take the form it has and get away with it," 
added Biden.

   Biden and Scholz did not have an extensive discussion about oil price caps 
or inflation, said a senior administration official. The leaders agreed, 
however, on the need for a negotiated end to the Ukraine war, but did not get 
into specific on how to achieve it, said the official, who requested anonymity 
to reveal details of a private conversation.

   Hours before the summit formally opened, Russia launched missile strikes 
against the Ukrainian capital, striking at least two residential buildings, 
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. They were the first such strikes by Russia in 
three weeks.

   Biden condemned Russia's actions as "more of their barbarism."

   Other leaders echoed Biden's praise of coalition unity.

   The head of the European Union's council of governments said the 27-member 
block maintains "unwavering 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 
supply "more military support, more financial means, and more political 
support" to enable Ukraine to defend itself and "curb Russia's ability to wage 
war."

   The EU has imposed six rounds of sanctions against Russia, the latest one 
being a ban on 90% of Russian crude oil imports by the end of the year. The 
measure is aimed at a pillar of the Kremlin's finances, its oil and gas 
revenues.

   Biden and the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, 
plus the EU, were spending Sunday in both formal and informal settings, 
including working sessions on the war's effects on the global economy, 
including inflation, and on infrastructure.

   Biden, who arrived in Germany early Sunday, said G-7 nations, including the 
United States, will ban imports of gold from Russia. A formal announcement was 
expected Tuesday as the leaders hold their annual summit.

   Senior Biden administration officials said gold is Moscow's second biggest 
export after energy, and that banning such imports would make it more difficult 
for Russia to participate in global markets. The officials spoke on condition 
of anonymity to discuss details before the announcement.

   British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the ban will "directly hit Russian 
oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin's war machine."

   "Putin is squandering his dwindling resources on this pointless and barbaric 
war. He is bankrolling his ego at the expense of both the Ukrainian and Russian 
people," Johnson said. "We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding."

   Gold, in recent years, has been the top Russian export after energy -- 
reaching almost $19 billion or about 5% of global gold exports, in 2020, 
according to the White House.

   Of Russian gold exports, 90% was consigned to G-7 countries. More than 90% 
of those exports, or nearly $17 billion, was exported to the UK. The United 
States imported less than $200 million in gold from Russia in 2019, and under 
$1 million in 2020 and 2021.

   Among the issues to be discussed are price caps on energy, which are meant 
to limit Russian oil and gas profits that Moscow can pump into its war effort. 
The idea has been championed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

   Michel said price caps on Russian oil imports were under discussion. But he 
said "we want to go into the details, we want to fine-tune ... to make sure we 
have a clear common understanding of what are the direct effects and what could 
be the collateral consequences" if such a step were to be taken by the group.

   Leaders were also set to discuss how to maintain commitments addressing 
climate change while also solving critical energy supply needs brought on by 
the war.

   "There's no watering down of climate commitments," John Kirby, a spokesman 
for Biden's National Security Council, said Saturday as the president flew to 
Germany.

   Biden is also set to formally launch a global infrastructure partnership 
designed to counter China's influence in the developing world. He had named it 
"Build Back Better World" and introduced the program at last year's G-7 summit.

   Biden and other leaders will announce the first projects to benefit from 
what the U.S. sees as an "alternative to infrastructure models that sell debt 
traps to low- and middle-income partner countries," Kirby said. The projects 
are also supposed to help advance U.S. economic competitiveness and our 
national security," he said.

   After the G-7 summit concludes on Tuesday, Biden will travel to Madrid for a 
summit of the leaders of the 30 members of NATO to align strategy on the war in 
Ukraine.

 
 
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