June 26 2022: Group of Seven leaders discussed how to coordinate action to tackle soaring inflation and ward off the threat of recession during their opening exchange in the Bavarian Alps, as well as how to keep up the pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
With the war raging about 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) to the east of Schloss Elmau, where the summit is taking place, German Chancellor and host Olaf Scholz will later lead talks on addressing climate change and on infrastructure and investment.
Leaders of the club of rich nations are also set to discuss a potential price cap on Russian oil during the three-day meeting, even as many of the details of the complex mechanism remain unresolved. The UK, the US, Japan and Canada plan to unveil a ban on new gold imports from Russia, which Britain said will have a “huge impact” on President Vladimir Putin’s ability to fund his armed forces.
- Dazzling Mountain Views Can’t Hide Darker Mood Among G-7 Leaders
- UK Says Ban on New Russian Gold Imports to Be Unveiled at G-7
- G-7 Negotiators Put Russia Oil Price Cap on Agenda for Leaders
- Scholz Targets Turnaround After Stumbling Start as German Leader
- Germany Pushes for G-7 Reversal on Fossil Fuels in Climate Blow
Johnson Aide Dismisses Talk of Strains With Biden (4:30 p.m.)
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman pushed back against the idea that his boss has a strained relationship with US President Joe Biden, dismissing the lack of the typical publicly scheduled bilateral meeting between the pair at the summit.
Johnson and Biden “will have many hours of discussions” at both the G-7 meeting and the NATO summit in Madrid starting Tuesday, spokesman Max Blain told reporters, adding he believed Biden was only meeting the host leaders at each event.
Pressed on whether Johnson’s relationship with Biden was strained, Blain said: “I think that would be utterly the wrong conclusion to draw.”
G-7 Worried About Economic Outlook: Scholz (3 p.m.)
Scholz said that leaders had detailed discussions on the current energy crisis and inflation surge, which they all agreed were a cause for concern, and that they were determined to tackle the risks to their economies “in a coordinated way.”
“Sinking growth rates in some countries, rising inflation, scarce raw materials and disruption to supply chains are not small challenges,” Scholz told reporters during a break in the talks.
“That’s why we have to take responsibility jointly but I am very, very, very optimistic that we will be able to send a very clear signal of unity and decisive action from this summit,” he added. “The fact that we are united means that we can tackle the risks in a coordinated way, and that we can mobilize investment and supply chains together.”
Uncertainty Over Biden-Johnson Bilateral (2:30 p.m.)
The US and the UK have in their own words a “special relationship,” one that the British bring up far more than the Americans and that is best exemplified by the Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher meeting of minds. So for every G-7, the bilateral between an American president and a UK prime minister is one of the most watched moments, especially with a character as colorful as Johnson.
The meetings are dissected and poured over by the UK press. That is why it’s quite unusual that no such bilateral has been penciled in between Biden and Johnson, especially as the two have been working extremely closely on Ukraine and coordinating actions and words. White House officials said Biden planned multiple meetings but so far only the meeting with the G-7 host has been made public.
Asked directly about it, a US official said Biden would be in Germany for three days and there will be lots of opportunities for the leaders to interact at dinners and on the margins of the sessions, a line repeated by the prime minister’s spokesman. Both Johnson and Biden will travel on to a NATO summit in Madrid next week so there will be more chances to talk. Nevertheless, the ambiguity around a bilateral that was always pretty much a sure thing is notable.
Kuleba Wants More G-7 Sanctions on Russia (2:20 p.m.)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on the G-7 to respond to Russia’s missile attack on Kyiv with more sanctions and additional deliveries of heavy weapons.
Kuleba tweeted a photograph of what he said was a seven-year-old Ukrainian child whose home in the capital had been hit by a Russian cruise missile. “Many more around Ukraine are under strikes,” Kuleba said. “Russia’s sick imperialism must be defeated.”
Russian Missile Strike ‘Barbarism’: Biden (12:40 p.m.)
Biden condemned a Russian missile strike on Kyiv earlier Sunday, telling reporters it was “more of their barbarism.”
Four Russian missiles struck residential buildings in the center of the Ukrainian capital following widespread bombardments in the north and west of the country on Saturday, including missile launches from Belarusian airspace.
Russia’s defense minister made his first visit to troops serving in Ukraine, while Putin met with his Belarusian counterpart and promised nuclear capable missile systems.
France Not Opposed to Oil-Price Cap (12:30 p.m.)
While France is not opposed to the US proposal for a price cap on oil, it wants a broader discussion with oil producers, according to a senior French official. EU sanctions have a stronger impact on Russia than a potential oil-price cap, added the official, who asked not to be identified by name.
G-7 leaders will also address the nuclear talks with Iran, and Iranian output should be part of discussions on oil prices, the official said.
Michel Says G-20 Key Even With Putin (12 p.m.)
European Council President Charles Michel wouldn’t rule out attending the G-20 in Bali in November even if Putin goes, saying multilateral channels could be a forum for delivering international condemnation of the invasion in Ukraine.
“It would be difficult to sit at the same table with Vladimir Putin. On the other hand, we support a multilateral approach, we support international cooperation,” said Michel, who heads the forum of EU leaders. “Do we want to kill the G-20, which is an important body, especially in those circumstances?” Indonesia, the current chair of the G-20, has invited the Russian leader to attend as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Biden Says G-7 ‘Won’t Splinter’ (11:30 a.m.)
Scholz welcomed Biden for their one-on-one talks against the stunning mountain backdrop. Back in 2015, Angela Merkel bonded with then-President Barack Obama when the G-7 summit was held at the same venue, cementing their close relationship, so there was a lot of attention on what kind of chemistry Biden and Scholz would project.
The body language was somewhat stiff, with Scholz barely speaking, though Biden tried to warm things up by reminiscing about his skiing experiences. As they sat down, Biden reminded Scholz about their most important priority at the meeting: to show a united front against Putin.
“We have to stay together because Putin has been counting on from the beginning that somehow NATO would -- and the G-7 -- would splinter,” Biden said. “But we haven’t and we’re not going to. So can’t let this aggression take the form it has and get away with it.”
Johnson Reiterates ‘Ukraine Fatigue’ Warning (10:30 a.m.)
The UK’s Johnson said it’s inevitable that citizens and politicians will grow weary of the war in Ukraine and stressed the need for continued unity in the international alliance ranged against Russia.
Asked if he was worried about a fracturing of support for the government in Kyiv, Johnson told reporters: “I think the pressure is there and the anxiety is there, we’ve got to be honest about that.”
“We’ve got to have really, really honest discussions about the implications of what’s going on, the pressures that individual friends and partners are feeling, that populations are feeling -- whether it’s on the costs of their energy or food or whatever,” he added.
Russia Hours Away From Default (9:30 a.m.)
After months of teetering on the edge of default, Russia is now just hours away from a dramatic moment in the financial battle that the US and others have waged against the Kremlin over its invasion of Ukraine.
A grace period on about $100 million of missed bond payments -- blocked because of wide-ranging sanctions -- ends on Sunday night. There won’t be an official declaration, and Russia is already disputing the designation, but if investors don’t have their money by the deadline, there will be an “event of default” on Monday morning, according to the bond documents.
G-7 Sherpas Agree Leaders Should Discuss Oil Cap (9 a.m.)
G-7 negotiators known as sherpas held what one official described as “intense” talks on the Russian oil cap ahead of the summit, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Such a price mechanism would set an upper limit on imports of oil from Russia, which would be imposed unilaterally by each participating country and prevent Russia selling at a higher price.
Russian Gold Ban ‘Will Have Global Reach’ (8:30 a.m.)
Underpinned by London’s central role in the gold trade, the import ban on Russian gold “will have global reach, shutting the commodity out of formal international markets,” the UK said in a statement.
Shipments between Russia and London have collapsed to almost zero since sanctions were imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The London Bullion Market Association, which sets standards for that market, removed Russian gold refiners from its accredited list in March.