By ZEKE MILLER and DARLENE SUPERVILLE | Associated Press
MUNICH – President Joe Biden intends to maintain global alliance punishing Russia for invading Ukraine as it embarks on a five-day trip to Europe, as the four-month war shows no signs of remission and its retorts for food and global food. energy supplies are sinking.
Biden first joins a meeting of the Group of Seven major economic powers in the Bavarian Alps of Germany and then travels to Madrid for a summit with the leaders of the 30 NATO countries. The visit comes as the global coalition to bolster Ukraine and punish Russia for its aggression showed signs of wear and tear amid soaring inflation in food and energy prices caused by the conflict.
Biden, who arrived in Germany on Saturday, and G-7 leaders intend to announce a ban on importing gold from Russia, according to a person familiar with White House planning who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Gold is Moscow’s second largest export after energy.
The war in Ukraine has entered a phase of attrition since Biden’s last trip to Europe in March, just weeks after Russia launched its assault. At that time, he met with allies in Brussels while Ukraine was under regular bombing and tried to reassure Eastern European partners in Poland that they would not be the next to face a raid on Moscow.
Russia’s subsequent withdrawal from western Ukraine and its regrouping in the east changed the conflict to one of artillery battles and bloody house-to-house fighting in the industrial heart of the country, the Donbas region.
Although U.S. officials see a broad consensus to keep up pressure on Russia and maintain support for Ukraine in the short term, they see Biden’s trip as an opportunity to align the strategy for both the conflict and its global ramifications toward winter. and beyond.
The Allies disagree on whether their goals are just to restore peace or force Russia to pay a higher price for the conflict to prevent its recurrence.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said the summit will address issues such as inflation and other “challenges in the global economy as a result of Putin’s war, but also how to continue to hold Putin accountable.” and subject to “constant consequences.”
“There will be some announcements, there will be some muscle movements,” Kirby said from Air Force One as Biden flew to Germany.
The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is ready to address the two summits by video. The United States and its allies have sent their country billions of dollars in military assistance and imposed increasingly stringent sanctions on Russia for the invasion.
Kirby said earlier that the Allies would make new “commitments” during the summits to further separate Russia from the global economy. The goal is to make it difficult for Moscow to acquire technology to rebuild the arsenal it has depleted in Ukraine and crack down on sanctions evasion by Russia and its oligarchs.
G-7 summits have traditionally put global financial issues first, but amid rising inflation in the United States and Europe, few concrete actions are expected.
“There are different drivers of inflation in these diverse economies, different things that can be used to address it,” said Josh Lipsky, director of the Atlantic Council’s Center for Geoeconomics. He predicts “a lack of ability to do something coordinated about inflation, in addition to really talking about the problem.”
Biden blamed much of the price hike on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially in energy markets, as US and Allied sanctions limited Moscow’s ability to sell its oil and gas supplies. Maintaining Western determination will only be more difficult as the war drags on and the cost of living problems pose political headaches for domestic leaders, U.S. and European officials have said.
Finding ways to transition Russian energy to other sources, without going back to long-standing goals to combat climate change, will be a key point of discussion.
“There is no dilution of climate commitments,” Kirby said.
Russia was once a member of what was then the G-8. He was expelled in 2014 after invading the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine, a measure that foreshadowed the current crisis.
One of the top priorities of Western officials heading to the summit is to find a way to bring Ukraine’s large grain harvest to the world market, as the United Nations and others warn that tens of millions of people are starving because of the scarcity. supply. The most shocking changes would require an agreement by Russia to stop targeting food and food infrastructure, as well as the agreement to establish a maritime corridor to allow grain exports from Ukraine.
In Madrid, Biden will help promote NATO’s effort to welcome Finland and Sweden into the alliance after the Russian invasion of Ukraine led the two historically neutral democracies to seek the protection of the mutual defense association.
Kirby declined to say during the flight whether Biden will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has indicated that he plans to block the two countries’ accession to NATO unless he receives concessions. The incorporation of new members requires the unanimous support of existing NATO members.
U.S. officials have maintained optimism that the two countries will be welcome in the alliance, but have downplayed expectations of a breakthrough in Madrid.
Biden often talks that the world is in a generational struggle between democracies and autocracies that will mark the global agenda for decades to come. He intends to use the trip to show that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “affirmed” democracies in the face of threats from autocracies in both Moscow and Beijing.
The president is also taking an important step by NATO to recognize China as an emerging challenge for the alliance. China’s formal reference in NATO’s new “Strategic Concept,” the first update of its guiding principles since 2010, fulfills the efforts of several presidents to expand the alliance’s focus to China, even in the face of an increasingly belligerent Russia.
In a symbolic step, NATO invited to the summit the leaders of the Pacific of Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. Kirby said China “will be a significant focus” for the G-7 and cited Beijing’s “coercive economic practices.”
Biden is also poised to relaunch his idea of a global infrastructure investment program aimed at countering China’s influence in the developing world, which he had previously called “Rebuilding a Better World” and presented at the 2021 G-7 summit.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused NATO of trying to “start a new Cold War” and warned against the alliance “to draw ideological lines that could induce confrontation.”
Superville reported from Telfs, Austria. Associated Press writers Will Weissert and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.
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