Biden heads to G7 summit focused on aid to Ukraine, China’s support for Russia

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden is flying to Italy on Wednesday for meetings with Group of Seven leaders aimed at increasing pressure on Russia in its war against Ukraine and on China over its support for Moscow and excess industrial capacity.

G7 leaders arrive at the summit facing myriad domestic issues, while seeking solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems.

Biden, 81, spent Tuesday evening at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, after a 12-member jury found his son guilty. Hunter Biden of lying about his drug use to illegally purchase a gun in 2018, making him the first child of a sitting US president to be convicted of a crime.

The trial follows the May 30 criminal conviction of former Republican President Donald Trump, the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime. Biden and Trump are running against each other in the November presidential election and are neck and neck in the polls.

Leaders of the world’s most developed democracies will address multiple challenges at the June 13-15 meeting, including wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, trade imbalances with China, threats posed by artificial intelligence and development challenges in Africa.

The leaders will announce new sanctions and export controls against Russia that will target entities and networks helping President Vladimir Putin’s forces wage war in Ukraine, White House spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday. “We are going to continue to drive up the costs of the Russian war machine,” Kirby said.

Washington is considering expanding sanctions on the sale of semiconductor chips and other products to Russia, aiming to target third-party sellers in China, sources familiar with the plan said Tuesday.

The administration will announce that it is expanding existing export controls to include U.S.-branded products, not just those made in the United States, the sources said. It will identify certain Hong Kong entities that it believes are shipping goods to Moscow.

Strengthening funding for Ukraine will be a top priority at the G7 meeting, with US and European officials keen to find solutions, ahead of Trump’s possible re-election and the uncertainty it would create over to future American support for kyiv.

The Group of Seven and the European Union are considering how to use profits generated by Russian assets tied up in the West to provide Ukraine with a large initial loan to guarantee kyiv’s financing for 2025.

“We will announce new measures to unlock the value of stranded Russian sovereign assets for Ukraine’s benefit and to help it recover from the destruction caused by Mr. Putin’s army,” Kirby said.

Biden will pressure other G7 leaders to agree to an innovative plan to use future interest on some $281 billion in Russian central bank funds to secure a $50 billion loan to Ukraine.

G7 leaders also face electoral challenges, with polls indicating that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will likely lose power in a national vote next month.

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