G7 leaders are going through a myriad of crises


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Elmau Castle (Germany) (AFP) – G7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, meet in southern Germany on Sunday, seeking strong support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion while fighting the deepening global fallout from the war.

From soaring inflation to the looming food crisis and energy shortages, the conflict in Ukraine, now in its fifth month, has mired the world in a series of crises.

As the leaders of the most industrialized nations of the Group of Seven gather at Elmau Castle, a Bavarian alpine resort, they will also face the looming threat of recession as well as the pressures of climate change.

On the eve of the rally, thousands of protesters marched through Munich, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) away, warning leaders against backtracking on climate pledges amid tensions in the energy market as the Russia cuts supply to Europe.

In a confident tone, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is hosting the summit, said: “We can take important decisions… if we act together and with determination.”

‘Do not give up’

Scholz and his counterparts have been locked in months of emergency action since Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.

As Western allies hammered Russia’s economy with unprecedented sanctions, President Vladimir Putin‘s troops dug in for an interminable war.

Ahead of the talks, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged allies not to falter in their support.

“Ukraine can and will win. But they need our support to do so. Now is not the time to give up on Ukraine,” he said, as Britain announced An additional $525 million in guarantees for World Bank loans later this year.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will make the same plea when he joins us via video link on Monday.

Protesters wearing masks representing G7 leaders take part in a protest called by environmental groups to warn against backsliding on climate commitments CHRISTOF STACHE AFP

John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said the G7 will seek to hold Russia accountable and increase the costs and consequences of the war against Putin and his economy.

At the same time, they will seek to minimize “as much as possible the effect of this rise in oil prices and the way (Putin) has weaponized energy.”

The impact on the economy will be at the center of the opening session of the G7.

Just six months ago, the global economy was poised for a huge post-pandemic recovery, but it was now looking down the barrel of a recession.

“The fundamental issues that concern us all” include “rising prices, supply chain disruptions, all exacerbated by this war in Ukraine,” Kirby said.

Systemic rival

Marked by a reliance on Russian energy that has prevented several European nations, including Germany and Italy, from doing everything they can to punish Putin’s Russia, the West also looked suspiciously at China, which it considers a systemic rival.

The G7 leaders, who will travel to Madrid just after the Bavarian summit for a gathering of NATO powers, will also begin to address the challenges posed by China.

Germany hosts G7 summit in Bavaria's Elmau Castle resort
Germany hosts G7 summit in Bavaria’s Elmau Castle resort Christof STACHE AFP/File

“The impact that China’s coercive economic practices, use of forced labor, intellectual theft – all of that is at the center of the G7, and I think you’re going to see China at the forefront as the G7 is moving forward,” Kirby said.

As the gap between Western allies Russia and China widens, the G7 will also seek to broaden its base.

To this end, Scholz invited the leaders of Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa to the Alpine summit.

While Argentina and Indonesia voted in a crucial UN vote to condemn Russia, the other three abstained.

But all are directly affected by a looming hunger crisis triggered by the blocking of grain and wheat exports from Ukraine, and India, for example, has imposed restrictions on wheat exports.

“We need to keep trade lines open for product and avoid excessive inventory,” Kirby noted.

Domestic woes

For many G7 leaders, the crises facing the world also provide a distraction from national woes.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been weakened at home after his movement failed to win an outright majority in legislative elections a week ago.

Biden faced greater divisions in the US political landscape after the Supreme Court struck down abortion rights, at a time when he was already struggling to cope with runaway inflation triggered by sky-high oil prices.


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