By Katya Golubkova and John Irish
HIROSHIMA, Japan (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies took action on Friday to tighten sanctions against Russia, as a draft statement to be released after their talks in the Japanese city of Hiroshima stressed the need to reduce the dependence on trade with China.
The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), which is to be joined by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this weekend, pledged to limit any exports to Russia that could aid President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of its neighbor and to halt violation of sanctions.
“Today’s actions will further tighten the grip on Putin’s ability to wage his barbaric invasion and advance our global efforts to disrupt Russian attempts to evade sanctions,” said US Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen. in a statement accompanying a series of new US measures.
A statement released by G7 leaders said restrictions would target exports of industrial machinery, tools and technology that will aid Russia’s war effort, while efforts will be pursued to limit Russian revenues from trading metals and diamonds.
On China, which the G7 powers increasingly see as a threat to economic security, they should agree that its status as the world’s second largest economy requires efforts to foster cooperation, said a first draft of the final communiqué seen by RockedBuzz via Reuters.
“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China, we are not trying to hinder China’s economic progress and development,” noted the draft, which is still subject to change, calling for “stable and constructive” ties with Beijing.
However, the draft called for measures to “reduce excessive dependencies” in critical supply chains and counter “malicious practices” in technology transfer and data disclosure.
He reiterated the need for peace in the Taiwan Strait and urged China to put pressure on Russia to end aggression in Ukraine.
The G7 – the United States, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Canada – will use the three-day meeting to discuss strategy on a Ukrainian conflict that shows no signs of easing.
The summit venue, Hiroshima, was destroyed by US nuclear bombing 78 years ago which ended World War II. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who represents Hiroshima in the lower house of the Japanese parliament, said he had chosen him for the global meeting to focus attention on arms control.
Threats from Russia of possible use of nuclear weapons, along with the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, have all added to concerns about proliferation.
In the draft, the G7 countries – including France, Britain and the nuclear-armed United States – expressed their “commitment to achieving a world without nuclear weapons” through a “realistic, pragmatic and responsible approach”.
Having emerged as the richest nations in the world after World War II, the G7 democracies have been increasingly challenged by a rising China and an unpredictable Russia.
Amid evidence that existing Russian sanctions were weakened by circumvention, they said the group was “engaging” with countries through which any restricted G7 goods, services or technology could transit to Russia.
“Essentially, the aim is to provide clarifications to make circumvention more difficult,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters. While no countries were named in the G7 statement, a separate statement from the European Union said it had asked Central Asian states to protect themselves from circumvention.
Breakdowns of German trade data show that its exports to Russia’s neighbors have increased sharply, fueling concerns about the re-export of goods from those neighbors.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much the new sanctions effort would hit Russia, whose finances have already been squeezed by moves to cut revenue from its vast energy reserves.
“The wordings are quite open,” said a senior EU diplomat of the G7 language designed to allow for different national approaches.
Ukraine has urged its Western allies to go further in isolating Russia, for example by narrowing leaks in the financial sector.
“Certainly, sanctions can be tightened on the (Russian) banking sector,” said John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine now with the Atlantic Council think tank. “They’ve chased several, but others are able to operate.”
DIAMONDS LEFT FOR LATER
Separately, the US administration has added dozens of entities to a trade blacklist and Britain has published plans to ban imports of Russian diamonds, copper, aluminum and nickel, although data show Russian imports of those products into the UK Kingdom were limited.
Reflecting the EU’s view that broader diamond sanctions would only shift Russia’s trade away from Belgium’s established gem capital of Antwerp, the G7 draft merely referred to possible steps towards future measures. restrictive.
Zelenskiy is expected to arrive late on a French jet on Saturday after attending the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia.
The G7 countries promised him further military and financial aid. US President Joe Biden has told fellow leaders he has supported a joint effort with allies to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, a senior administration official said.
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova, John Irish, Jeff Mason, Trevor Hunnicutt, Sakura Murakami, Kentaro Sugiyama, David Dolan and Andreas Rinke in Hiroshima; additional reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Kantaro Komiya, Satoshi Sugiyama and Yoshifumi Takemoto in Tokyo, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; writing by Mark John; editing by Robert Birsel and Mark Heinrich)