Summit in Japan: G-7 countries want to tighten sanctions against Russia


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BAt the G-7 summit in Japan, new punitive measures are to be imposed against Russia: For example, the EU wants to “limit” trade in Russian diamonds as part of the sanctions due to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. This was announced by EU Council President Charles Michel on Friday at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife receive EU Council President Charles Michel in Hiroshima

What: AP/Franck Robichon

Britain had previously announced a ban on trading in Russian diamonds. The UK will therefore impose an import ban on Russian diamonds as well as copper, aluminum and nickel from Russia, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced in a statement. In addition, the British government is preparing new sanctions against 86 people and companies.

The United States has also announced a new package of sanctions in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Among other things, the plan is to cut around 70 companies and organizations from Russia and other countries from US exports, said a high-ranking US government official in Hiroshima. In addition, more than 300 individuals, companies and organizations, ships and planes are to be subject to other punitive measures.

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The plan is to further impede access to goods that are important on the battlefield, said the US government official. Sanctions against companies, organizations and individuals are aimed at targeting financial and other supporters of Russia. The sanctions hit targets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In addition, sanctioning powers should be extended to the digital sector of the Russian economy.

The US official said all G-7 countries are preparing new sanctions and export controls at the same time. He did not want to comment on the partners’ plans in detail. “But the United States will launch an extensive package of measures of its own.” The aim is to increase economic pressure on Russia and make it even more difficult to maintain its war machine. Concrete details on the new US sanctions package should follow.

Russia’s war against Ukraine is among the main themes of the meeting of the seven leading democracies in Japan, which officially started on Friday. To kick things off, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida received the other heads of state and government for a visit to the Peace Museum, which commemorates the US atomic bomb attack on the city on August 6, 1945. At the three-day summit, the G-7 states want to coordinate their new sanctions against Russia, among other things. Their resolutions are not legally binding. Japan and Canada are also expected to announce new sanctions.

“United and Standing Firm in Our Support for Ukraine”

There will be a separate declaration on Ukraine at the Hiroshima summit. It includes new commitments to close loopholes in existing sanctions and further reduce dependence on Russian energy, a US official said. Efforts should also be continued to restrict Russia’s access to the international financial system.

Japan G7 Summit

US President Joe Biden before a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister

What: AP/Susan Walsh

“As the sanctions announced today show, the G-7 remain united in the face of the Russian threat and stand firm in our support for Ukraine,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on the sidelines of the G-7 summit.

The West has already imposed unprecedented punitive measures against Russia, including sweeping trade restrictions. On Thursday it became known that the G-7 group also wants to restrict the export of rough diamonds from Russia, which is worth billions. A corresponding declaration is to be decided in Hiroshima, as several diplomats from the German Press Agency said on Thursday.

The diamond trade is a significant source of income for Russia. The state diamond promoter Alrosa achieved 332 billion rubles (around 4 billion euros) in 2021 – the last year in which it disclosed its figures. Russia is the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds.

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The reason why the Russian diamond group Alrosa never made it into the EU's sanctions papers could lie in the port city of Antwerp

So far, the EU has not restricted the diamond trade. So far, one of the reasons has been the Resistance from Belgium. The EU member is one of the largest buyers of Russian diamonds, along with India and the United Arab Emirates. The Flemish port city of Antwerp has been considered the diamond center of the world since the 16th century. The USA is one of the most important buyers of the end products.

The USA, Canada and Great Britain, on the other hand, had already imposed sanctions on Alrosa. According to the outgoing Alrosa CEO Sergei Ivanov, however, this did little harm to the group. Ivanov was recently optimistic that new sanctions would not take effect either.

China accuses US of “coercive measures”.

In addition to Great Britain and the USA, the G-7 also includes Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada as well as the European Union. The group’s deliberations are scheduled from Friday to Sunday. In addition to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the focus is also on dealing with China and its claims to power and the difficult situation in the global economy.

At a press conference shortly before the start of the summit, EU Council President Charles Michel emphasized the EU’s desire for good cooperation with China. According to Michel, the European Union wants to maintain stable and constructive cooperation with the country and at the same time calls on China to take its role as a mediator seriously: “We call on China to urge Russia to end its military aggression,” said the President of the European Council .

According to Japanese media reports, at the end of their deliberations, the G-7 states want to make a statement against “economic coercive measures” without explicitly naming China. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had previously referred directly to China. She cited Australia and Lithuania as examples, which China had put under heavy pressure because of political differences.

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China's President Xi Jinping (left) and former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shake hands before signing the 2019 Silk Road Agreement

China rejected this in the run-up to the summit and for its part directed allegations at the USA. The State Department in Beijing issued a report denouncing the US as “the actual instigator of forced diplomacy with a shameful dark history.” The United States, for example, has accused other countries of using economic coercion and great power politics, but rather owns the “copyrights” to do so. This is a “standard tool in the toolbox of US foreign policy”.

“The US is the inventor and master of coercive diplomacy,” the report continues. They used “various rogue means” such as unilateral sanctions, economic blockades, military threats, political isolation and technical hurdles.

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