ELMAU, Germany – The U.S. announced on Sunday that it will ban new imports of Russian gold as it steps up efforts to deprive Vladimir Putin of the financial resources he needs to maintain his assault on Ukraine.
Biden administration officials made the announcement as the U.S. president prepared to meet with the leaders of France, Germany, Canada, the UK, Italy and Japan. The nations collectively make up an economic alliance known as the Group of Seven.
"The United States has imposed unprecedented costs on Putin to deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war against Ukraine," President Joe Biden said in a tweet. "Together, the G7 will announce that we will ban the import of Russian gold, a major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia."
Other G-7 nations are expected to follow suit, with the United Kingdom being chief among them. The UK imports more gold from Russia than any other G-7 nation.
Gold is a top export for Russia and a source of significant revenue for the nation.
Punishing Putin: G-7 nations will be looking for additional ways to weaken Russia's economy and discipline Putin.
It's a balancing act: Leaders will also discuss how they can bring down oil prices and minimize Russian retaliation against countries that abide by sanctions.
What's complicating their decisions: Russia has already slowed the flow of gas to European countries that rely on the nation with large oil reserves, sparking fears of an energy crisis on the continent next winter.
Welcome wagon: President Biden sat down for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a relatively newer leader who replaced Angela Merkel late last year. Scholz was the first G-7 leader to get a one-on-one meeting with Biden during the weeklong trip.
Breaking bread: After the meeting, Biden made his official entrance at the G-7 before attending a working lunch with assembled leaders. They discussed the global economy during their meal, the White House said. Afterward, they participated in a family photo.
Don't forget about China: Biden and Scholz discussed China during their meeting, a senior U.S. official said. China has the world's second-largest economy, and Biden has made competition with the country a pillar of his foreign policy.
New investments: G-7 leaders announced a global infrastructure partnership later in the day. The program positions them to act as alternative lenders to developing nations that might otherwise accept investment dollars from China.
Making the most of their time: The White House said that leaders are having a working dinner that will be focused on foreign policy. Russia and China are certain to be on the menu.
What's about to happen
G-7 leaders will continue to discuss new ways to crack down on Putin for his invasion into Ukraine. They've dedicated their entire Monday morning session to discussing the war, White House guidance on Biden's schedule shows.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will brief G-7 leaders virtually during their morning session on Monday.
They will work over lunch again, this time discussing climate, energy and health initiatives, before sitting down with guest nations. This year's host, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, invited the leaders of Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa to attend.
What they are saying
Biden, after his first day of meetings in Germany, said G-7 nations are facing energy, climate and health challenges.
"The choices we make now, in my view, are going to set a direction of our world for several generations to come. These challenges are hard for all of us, even nations with resources of the G-7," Biden said.
Biden told Scholz that the chancellor has "done an incredible job" and NATO allies have to "stay together" in their fight against Putin's aggression in Ukraine.
He said that Putin has been counting on NATO and the G-7 splintering: "But we haven't. And we're not going to."
The U.S. president also marveled at the beauty of the Bavarian Alps, where the summit is taking place, telling Scholz during their meeting: "I used to ski a lot, too ... I haven't skied in awhile."
National Security Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters on Saturday that Biden was meeting with Scholz first to do a "signals check" before the official start of the summit.
"They'll continue to closely coordinate, as they have been, on supporting Ukraine, holding Russia accountable, and, of course, other important priorities between the two of us," Kirby said.
Speeding up grain exports from Ukraine will be a key topic of discussion for G-7 leaders this week, with Russia continuing to block the nation's grain ships from accessing the Black Sea.
Biden has proposed building grain silos along Ukraine's border with Poland, but the Polish government says constructing the new silos will take months. The White House said Sunday that food security challenges would be a core focus of the G-7.
Want to know more? Here's what you missed
World leaders will hold sessions on a range of economic challenges while in Germany, including rising prices, wheat shortages and the possibility of a global recession.
Biden and G-7 leaders announced the launch of a global infrastructure initiative on Sunday that is meant to help low- and middle-income countries better address their development problems.
"Developing countries often lack the essential infrastructure to help navigate global shocks like a pandemic. So they feel the impacts more acutely, and they have a harder time recovering," Biden said at the initiative's launch. "In our deeply connected world, that's not humanitarian concern, it's an economic and a security concern for all of us."
The U.S. aims to raise $200 billion for the program through grants, federal financing and private investment. Biden said G-7 nations hope to collect $600 billion for the projects by 2027.
"I want to be clear, this isn't aid or charity," Biden said. "It's an investment that will deliver returns for everyone, including the American people and the people of all our nations. It will boost all of our economies."
The president will sign a presidential memorandum that designates clean energy, cybersecurity, high-speed internet, gender equity and vaccine manufacturing as infrastructure priorities, a White House fact sheet said.
One of the first projects the Biden administration will finance through the project is a $2 billion solar project in Angola.
G-7 nations and the European Union are also investing $3.3 million in the development of a vaccine manufacturing facility in Senegal that the U.S. says could lead to the production of millions of doses of COVID-19 and other vaccines.
Romania, India and Côte d’Ivoire also stand to benefit from the program.
The G-7's infrastructure investments are intended to act as a counter to China's Belt and Road Initiative and are part of Biden's push for democratic nations to compete more forcefully against China.
"It's a chance for us to share our positive vision for the future. And let communities around the world, see themselves, and see for themselves, the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies," Biden said. "Because when democracies demonstrate what we can do— all that we have to offer—I have no doubt that we'll win the competition every time."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden bans Russian gold imports, G-7 leaders consider new sanctions