Implored by Zelensky, Biden and G-7 to increase Ukraine aid

In a video conference Monday with leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged more advanced weapons and defense systems to deter Russia’s airstrikes — and the US plans to deliver just that.

President Biden will announce a new aid package this week that will include advanced medium- and long-range air defense systems, a senior White House official confirmed, noting that Zelensky is eager to shorten a brutal war entering its fifth month.

Zelenskyi, speaking with G-7 leaders a day after Russian missiles struck civilian targets in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, told Biden and the other leaders gathered here in the Bavarian Alps that he urgently needs “additional air defense capabilities, the missiles out of the sky,” said Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.

“What we’re trying to do with this point is to tailor our military assistance to the specific, immediate needs of Ukrainians on the battlefield,” Sullivan told reporters after the morning’s G-7 working session, which focused on the war in Ukraine. These discussions focused on the best strategies to assist Kyiv at a moment when fighting in the country’s embattled eastern region has stalled.

Zelensky, Sullivan said, “believes that bitter conflict is not in the interests of the Ukrainian people” and “would like to see his military and those in the West who support his military make maximum use of the next few months to defeat Ukraine.” in as good a position as they can be.”

After the meeting, G-7 leaders issued a statement pledging to support Ukraine “as long as necessary” and reaffirmed their “unwavering commitment” to protecting the country from Russian aggression while leaving it to Zelenskyy , when and how to try to negotiate a peace settlement.

Given the global economic impact of the war, which has pushed up inflation, destabilized energy markets and exacerbated global food shortages, Biden and other G-7 leaders are also motivated to apply additional pressure that could help end the conflict.

As defense aid to Ukraine has been increased, Biden and other G-7 leaders appeared close to an agreement in principle to cap Russian oil prices, limiting how much Moscow can make from selling its crude oil around the world.

“The goal here is to starve Russia, strip Putin of his main source of income, and depress oil prices to mitigate the impact of Putin’s war at the pump,” said a senior government official who spoke about the proposal on condition of anonymity.

The US has already banned Russian oil imports, and Europe is working to reduce its dependence on Putin’s vast energy reserves. While Russia is selling less oil than it did in February when it launched its invasion, its oil and gas revenues have actually increased as fuel costs have soared.

In theory, a price cap would keep Russian oil in the market and avoid further disruption to global supply, while reducing Putin’s ability to benefit.

But leaders are likely to leave Germany on Wednesday without a firm deal beyond mandating G-7 finance ministers to figure out how such price caps might be implemented.

Sullivan said any agreement in principle would still represent a “rather dramatic step forward” and “one of the more significant outcomes of a G-7 summit.” But he refused to say how quickly the group could act.

“The biggest factor here is that this can’t be pulled off the shelf as best practice,” he said. “It’s a novel concept for dealing with a particularly novel challenge, which is how to deal effectively with a country that sells millions of barrels of oil a day.”

“However, there’s no reason,” he added, “that if leaders unite on this issue, it couldn’t be worked on relatively quickly.”

G-7 members, also dealing with food shortages and other implications of the Ukraine war on Monday, planned to announce new measures to punish Russia. These measures are expected to include sanctions on Russia’s state defense contractors, restrictions on suspected war crimes and grain theft from Ukraine, and additional tariffs on Russian exports.

Biden is expected to leave Germany on Wednesday and travel to Madrid for a NATO summit that will continue to focus on Ukraine. The organization plans to reaffirm a new strategic concept, the first in 12 years, that will reflect the changing security calculus in Europe and the West since Putin invaded Ukraine.

Crystallizing sea change is the group’s likely expansion, as Finland and Sweden, after decades of neutrality, have moved to join the Defense Pact, which treats any attack on one member as an attack on all.

Most do not expect that at this week’s meetings all member states will sign the extension, a requirement for approval. Turkey in particular has so far refused to agree to the accession of Finland and Sweden.

Biden, Sullivan said, has not ruled out a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Let’s see how the next 24 hours develop,” said Sullivan. “There is activity going on.” Implored by Zelensky, Biden and G-7 to increase Ukraine aid

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