G7 pledge to 'starve the Russian war machine' as world's biggest countries step up sanctions on Kremlin

19 May 2023, 12:43 | Updated: 19 May 2023, 13:43

The G7 leaders have vowed to 'starve' Russia's war machine
The G7 leaders have vowed to 'starve' Russia's war machine. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

The leaders of the G7 group of leading economies have vowed to "starve the Russian war machine" by stepping up sanctions, as part of efforts to hasten the end to the war in Ukraine.

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The war in Ukraine is top of the agenda at the annual G7 summit in Hiroshima, where Rishi Sunak has joined Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau and the leaders of Japan, Germany, Italy, alongside EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

In a joint statement on Friday, they called Russia's invasion "illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked" and called for the Kremlin to "immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraws its troops and military equipment from the entire internationally recognised territory of Ukraine".

The leaders added: "We condemn, in the strongest terms, Russia’s manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations (UN) and the impact of Russia’s war on the rest of the world."

The allies said: "15 months of Russia’s aggression has cost thousands of lives, inflicted immense suffering on the people of Ukraine, and imperiled access to food and energy for many of the world’s most vulnerable people.

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G7 leaders gather in Hiroshima ahead of summit

"We express our full sympathy and condolences to the Ukrainian people for their loss and suffering.

"We salute the Ukrainian people for their brave resistance. Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not tire in our commitment to mitigate the impact of Russia’s illegal actions on the rest of the world."

The G7 leaders in Japan
The G7 leaders in Japan. Picture: Getty

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The allies said that they would pile the pressure on Russia by "starv[ing] it Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine."

They added: "We will continue to shield agricultural, medical, and humanitarian products from our restrictive measures and make every effort to avoid potential spillover impacts on third countries."

Rishi Sunak and Italian PM Giorgia Meloni
Rishi Sunak and Italian PM Giorgia Meloni. Picture: Getty

The G7 leaders said that they would "work closely together to restrict trade in and use of diamonds mined, processed or produced in Russia" and pressure other countries to do similar.

Britain itself is banning Russian diamonds in a new wave of sanctions to pressure Russia that will also prohibit imports of Russian-origin copper, aluminium and nickel.

Other issues raised by the G7 leaders included:

  • Raising the "gravest concern" about Russia’s "grossly irresponsible seizure" and militarszation of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant".
  • Committing to giving economic support for Ukraine recovering and rebuilding after the war ends
  • Calling for combatting corruption in Ukraine
  • Urging third-party countries to "immediately cease providing material support" to Russia "or face severe costs"
  • Squeezing Russia's revenues from commodities, including from metals
  • Making sure Russia is held accountable for the atrocities its armed forces have committed in Ukraine
  • Supporting other countries that have been hit hard by price shocks since the start of the war
The leaders visiting the Itsukushima shrine near Hiroshima
The leaders visiting the Itsukushima shrine near Hiroshima. Picture: Getty

The three-day summit - also including Germany, Italy and Canada - will also include talks on economic stability and the security of Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy went to Saudi Arabia for talks on Friday, but may join the G7 summit later.

After issuing their statement on Russia and Ukraine, G7 leaders visited the Itsukushima shrine on Miyajima island, off the coast of Hiroshima, before having dinner together.

Mr Sunak earlier issued a warning to Vladimir Putin that "we're not going away". The Prime Minister said on Friday the Russian president needs to understand the Western allies are "steadfast" in supporting Mr Zelenskyy's resistance against the invasion.

"My message to Putin is straightforward. We're not going away," Mr Sunak said during a round of interviews at Hiroshima's Seifukan tea house shortly before the summit kicked off.

Rishi Sunak in Japan
Rishi Sunak in Japan. Picture: Getty

Mr Sunak's official spokesman said: "Guarding against economic coercion is something that the Prime Minister is pushing for.

"On Sunday, Mr Sunak will meet his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, who is attending the summit as a guest.

Mr Modi, who has been close to the Russian president, has remained neutral on the Russian invasion, calling for peaceful dialogue to end the war.

The Prime Minister told reporters travelling with him in Japan that he has seen "positive" steps from India in its stance and stressed the need to keep up the dialogue.

"One thing we have to keep doing is talking to countries like India and also Brazil, that is going to be in that second part of the summit which is a good thing," Mr Sunak told reporters.

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