Western leaders ended the three-day G7 summit in Germany vowing to maintain and increase the economic and political costs for Vladimir Putin and his regime of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
German Chancellor and G7 President Olaf Scholz made the pledge at a closing press conference where he said the group stood together, united and unbreakable, adding: “It is important to stand together for this over the long distance, which will certainly be necessary.
As the summit took place at the same time as an attack on a kindergarten in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and a missile attack on a shopping center in Kremenchuk that left at least 18 people dead and which the G7 called war crime, the leaders hoped the summit succeeded in showing the resolve, unity and practical steps needed to weaken the Russian president’s war machine. Scholz insisted that the rest of the world was watching Putin’s brutal assault on Ukraine’s civilian population.
However, disagreements at the top continued to the end over the key issue of finding a way to reduce the flow of money to the Kremlin from Western consumption of Russian energy. Germany fears that a cap on the price of oil or gas could lead to a complete cut off of Russian energy supplies and, consequently, a European industrial collapse. Others, especially Americans, say the plan is achievable.
The G7 pledged to “take immediate action to secure energy supply and reduce price spikes caused by extraordinary market conditions, including exploring additional measures such as price caps.”
The wording helps further work on complementary US oil price cap ideas and an Italian gas price cap plan. Russia has already warned of retaliation if the West tries to manipulate energy prices below market level.
G7 leaders said they were moved by the video chat with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he called on the group to help end the war by winter, reflecting both attrition to faced by Ukrainian soldiers and the belief that heavier weapons can help regain the ground that is gradually being lost in the Donbass. A G7 leader said: “Zelenskiy has shown courage and realism about what lies ahead.
Boris Johnson, who entered the summit warning that Russia is set to annex more Ukrainian lands if the status quo in the balance of power continues, appeared slightly more optimistic that those who had called for a speedy settlement have been appeased and that it has been accepted, a sustained battle awaits us.
French President Emmanuel Macron, sometimes seen as the man most committed to a future long-term relationship with Russia, insisted the G7 would support Ukraine for as long as necessary. He was unrestrained in his criticism of Russian attacks on civilians, saying the strike on the Kremenchuk trading center was a war crime and that Russia should not win the war.
The final statement said: “We will stand by Ukraine for as long as necessary, providing the necessary financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support in its courageous defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He also pointed out that the G7 has pledged and delivered $29.5bn (£24.1bn) in budget support this year.
The confirmation that the United States will provide a state-of-the-art surface-to-air missile defense system was probably the most significant tangible development in terms of practical aid.
At a summit normally dominated by issues of climate change, food security, global debt and pandemics, it was striking how high-level discussions focused on these issues, even though the communiqué of 28 pages dealt with Scholz’s personal plan to form a “climate club” by the end of the year dedicated to achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
Other stated climate goals were “a highly decarbonized road sector by 2030, a fully or mostly decarbonized electricity sector by 2035, and prioritizing concrete and timely action towards the goal of accelerating the phase-out coal-fired household energy.
The wording gives Japan leeway as to when it will achieve zero-emission vehicles, and also allows some flexibility for overseas fossil fuel investment.
On food security, the G7 pledged an additional $4.5 billion, well below the United Nations World Food Program target.
Max Lawson, head of inequality policy at Oxfam, said the funding was just a fraction of the minimum needed of an additional $28.5 billion: “Faced with the worst hunger crisis in a generation, the G7 simply did not take the necessary measures. As a result, millions of people will face terrible hunger and starvation.
“Instead of doing what is necessary, the G7 is starving millions and cooking the planet.”