G7 powers step up Russia sanctions in bid to slow war effort
U.S. President Joe Biden, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, France's President Emmanuel Macron and Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attend a working lunch meeting at G7 leaders' summit in Hiroshima, western Japan May 19, 2023, in this handout photo released by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS
HIROSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - Leaders of the world richest democracies agreed on Friday to stiffen sanctions against Russia and pledged financial support for Ukraine as its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, 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 Zelenskiy 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 - are also expected to debate strategy on the Ukraine conflict that shows no sign of easing.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who represents Hiroshima in Japan's lower house of parliament, said he chose the city for the summit to focus attention on arms control.
Hiroshima, and another Japanese city, Nagasaki, were destroyed by U.S. nuclear attacks 78 years ago that ended World War Two.
Zelenskiy will attend on Sunday, two officials involved in the G7 summit said, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, told state television that Zelenskiy's attendance was "absolutely essential in order to defend our interests".
Having emerged as the world's richest nations after World War Two, the G7 democracies have become increasingly challenged by an ascendant China and unpredictable Russia.
Leaders are expected to issue a statement with a "a section specific to China", listing issues that include "economic coercion and other behaviour", a U.S. official said.
They are focusing on how to warn the world's second biggest economy against what they see as its threat to global supply chains and economic security without alienating a powerful and important trade partner.
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova, John Irish, Jeff Mason, Trevor Hunnicutt, Sakura Murakami, Kentaro Sugiyama and Andreas Rinke in HIROSHIMA; Additional reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Kantaro Komiya, Satoshi Sugiyama and Yoshifumi Takemoto in Tokyo; Writing by Mark John; editing by Robert Birsel)