G7 summit kicks off under shadow of Ukraine war, economic crisis

·2 min read
AFP - JOHN MACDOUGALL

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has welcomed leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies to a three-day summit in the Bavarian Alps overshadowed by the war in Ukraine and its far-reaching consequences, from energy shortages to a food crisis.

Sunday's summit takes place against a darker backdrop than last year when the British, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Japanese and U.S. leaders met for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic and vowed to build back better.

However, soaring global energy and food prices are hitting economic growth in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter that "Acting on the war in Ukraine and its consequences. Acting on food and energy security. Acting on the climate challenge. These are our objectives at the G7 Summit in Germany."

'Unity and coordination'

On Friday, the United Nations warned of an "unprecedented global hunger crisis".

Climate change, an increasingly assertive China and the rise of authoritarianism are also set to be on the agenda.

The G7 leaders are expected to seek to show a united front on supporting Ukraine for as long as necessary and cranking up pressure on the Kremlin - although they will want to avoid sanctions that could stoke inflation and exacerbate the cost-of-living crisis affecting their own people.

On EU official said: "The main message from the G7 will be unity and coordination of action... That's the main message, that even through difficult times... we stick to our alliance."

More sanctions on Russian imports

The G7 partners are reportedly set to agree to ban imports of gold from Russia.

A German government source later said that leaders were having "really constructive" conversations on a possible price cap on Russian oil imports.

The leaders are also expected to discuss options for tackling rising energy prices and replacing Russian oil and gas imports.

The summit is taking place at the castle resort of Schloss Elmau at the foot of Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze - the same venue as when the country last hosted the G7 annual meet-up in 2015.

Then too, Russian aggression against Ukraine dominated the agenda a year after Moscow's invasion of Crimea.

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