Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to join virtual G7 summit
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will join President Biden and G7 leaders Sunday morning for a virtual summit amid Russia’s months-long war against Ukraine, the White House announced Friday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the virtual summit will be chaired by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The G7 includes the United States, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
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The group was once considered the G8 and included Russia, which was ousted from the group of leading nations following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Biden, Zelenskyy and G7 leaders are expected to discuss “the latest developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine,” and it’s “global impact.”
Psaki said the leaders will show “support for Ukraine and Ukraine’s future,” and will demonstrate “continued G7 unity.”
Psaki also said the leaders will discuss building on “our unprecedented sanctions to impose severe costs” for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, and discuss options to sanction additional individuals and companies, while ensuring there are steps in place to “prevent companies or others from evading the sanctions we put in place.”
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The United States, along with European allies and partners, have imposed “severe” sanctions on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
In February, the United States, Canada and other European allies imposed sanctions on Russia, and removed Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system. The U.S. and allies said the move would “ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally.”
The move came from leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
SWIFT provides messaging services to banks in over 200 countries, and is controlled by the central banks of the G-10, including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and Sweden.
The United States also banned all imports of Russian oil, gas and energy to the United States, targeting the “main artery” of Russia’s economy amid Putin’s war on Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Psaki said “it should not be lost the significance of… when this G7 meeting is happening.”
READ THE LATEST UPDATES ON THE WAR IN UKRAINE
The virtual G7 summit is taking place “the day before Russia’s Victory Day, which President Putin has certainly projected his desire to mark that day as a day where he is victorious over Ukraine.”
“Of course, he is not,” Psaki said. “While he expected to be marching through the streets of Kiev, that’s obviously not what is going to happen.”
Psaki added that “having this meeting and conversation on Sunday is an opportunity to not only show how unified the West is in confronting the aggression and the invasion by President Putin, but also to show that unity requires work, requires effort, requires blood, sweat, tears sometimes.”
“And the president is committed to continuing to engage, to make sure people are unified with these leaders and unified and moving forward,” Psaki said.
The president, last month, requested $33 billion from Congress for additional security, military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine and for U.S. efforts to strengthen European security in cooperation with NATO allies and partners.
The Biden administration is calling for $20.4 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine, including $5 billion in additional drawdown authority, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and $4 billion for the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program.
That funding would provide additional artillery, armored vehicles, anti-armor and anti-air capabilities; accelerated cyber capabilities and advanced air defense systems; assistance to clear landmines, improvised explosive devices and other explosive remnants of war in order to address threats related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials; and put NATO at a “stronger” security posture.
With regard to economic aid, the administration is calling for $8.5 billion in assistance for Ukraine to address and respond to the “immediate crisis” and help to provide “basic citizen services,” including funds to ensure Ukraine’s democratic government continues functioning, to ensure they can provide food, energy and health care to the Ukrainian people, to counter Russian disinformation and propaganda narratives, and to support businesses during the fall harvest and for “natural gas purchases” by the Ukrainian state energy company in order to address needs in Ukraine.
The emergency supplemental funding request came after the Biden administration last month announced another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery and ammunition, as the country continues to fight to defend itself against Russia’s multi-front war. That funding was in addition to an authorization of $800 million in weapons, ammunition and other security assistance earlier this month.
The $1.6 billion the president approved this month for Ukraine came in addition to the more than $1 billion the Biden administration already sent to Ukraine.