The G7 Summit is currently being hosted by Japan in Hiroshima, the hometown of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, started from May 19, 2023. The summit is attended by leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with the European Union also participating as a “non-enumerated member.”
The Summit Opens in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park with Prime Minister Kishida Welcoming Leaders. They paid their respects by laying wreaths to honour the thousands of individuals who lost their lives when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city in 1945.
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Discussions during the summit, which began around noon, primarily focus on addressing the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and determining an appropriate response to the situation.
G7 leaders commit to actions against Russia’s war in Ukraine
During the first day of the G7 summit in Japan, leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) countries made a commitment to impose stricter sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. This move represents an escalation of the already significant sanctions efforts implemented against Moscow.
The G7 leaders released a statement after closed-door meetings, affirming their unwavering support for Ukraine and their united stance against Russia’s “illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression” on Ukraine. They emphasised that Russia initiated the conflict and has the power to end it.
The statement outlined that the new restrictions would target exports of industrial machinery, tools, and technology that are useful for Russia’s war efforts. Additionally, the G7 leaders expressed their intention to take measures to limit Russia’s revenue from the trade of metals and diamonds. These actions are part of the on-going effort to exert economic pressure on Russia as a response to its actions in Ukraine.
US takes aim at Russia with new sanctions
In addition to the G7’s commitment to stricter sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced a series of new actions specifically targeting Russia. These measures aim to tighten the grip on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to carry out the invasion of Ukraine and to counter Russian attempts to evade sanctions.
The US Treasury imposed sanctions on over 300 targets, including 22 individuals and 104 entities in more than 20 countries and jurisdictions. The Department of State also targeted almost 200 individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft.
The recent actions primarily targeted Russia’s attempts to evade sanctions, as well as its future energy revenues and military-industrial supply chains. Additionally, the US expanded its sanctions authorities to include additional sectors of the Russian economy, including architecture, manufacturing, and construction. This broadening enables the imposition of sanctions on any individual or entity operating within these sectors.
The Biden administration halted the export of a wide range of consumer goods to Russia and added 71 companies to the Department of Commerce’s “Entity List,” which restricts the sale of US technology to these entities without a license. The new restrictions targeted items that could potentially support Russia’s military, including everyday products such as clothes dryers, snowplows, and milking machines.
The blacklisted companies include 69 Russian entities, one from Armenia, and one from Kyrgyzstan. Among the targeted entities are aircraft repair and parts production plants, gunpowder, tractor and car factories, shipyards, and engineering centres in Russia.
While the financial penalties imposed by the US and Europe have already affected Russia’s economy, experts suggest that Washington may still impose even stronger penalties. The current sanctions have not yet halted Putin’s pursuit of the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in thousands of casualties and extensive destruction.
US to support providing F-16 Jets to Ukraine
During the G7 summit, US President Joe Biden informed leaders that the United States will support a joint effort with allies to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets. This support comes as Ukraine aims to advance against Russian troops and plans a counteroffensive. The F-16s are considered more effective than the Soviet-era jets currently in Ukraine’s possession. Decisions regarding the quantity, timing, and providers of the jets, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, will be made in the coming months as training progresses.
At the beginning of the full-scale invasion by Russia, Ukraine was estimated to have around 120 operational combat aircraft, mainly consisting of older MiG-29s and Su-27s inherited from the Soviet era.
However, Ukrainian officials have expressed the need for up to 200 jets to effectively match Moscow’s air power, which is believed to be five or six times larger than Ukraine’s.
President Zelensky has primarily requested F-16s from its allies. The F-16, originally developed in the 1970s, is capable of supersonic speeds and engaging targets in both air and ground combat. While the more advanced F-35 has surpassed the F-16 in terms of modern features, the latter is still widely used. Experts argue that modern fighters like the F-16 would greatly assist Ukraine in conducting strategic strikes deep within Russian territory. Earlier this year, several Eastern European countries supplied Ukraine with Soviet-era MiG fighter jets.
In addition to the focus on Ukraine, the G7 leaders called for a world without nuclear weapons and urged Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea to halt nuclear escalation and embrace non-proliferation. The leaders expressed concern over Russia’s nuclear rhetoric and its stated intention to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus, emphasizing the need for Russia to fully implement the New START treaty.