President Biden told allies at a G7 summit Sunday that “we have to stay together” against Russia — as the group moved to ban imports of Russian gold in a continuing effort to squeeze Moscow out of the global economy.
“We have to stay together, because Putin has been counting on, from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G7 would splinter, but we haven’t and we’re not going to,” Biden told German Chancellor and current G7 president Olaf Scholz at a pre-summit meeting.
The formal announcement about the fresh sanctions squeeze is expected to come Tuesday during the summit in the Bavarian Alps.
The US and its Western allies have slapped a series of economic sanctions on Russia, Kremlin officials and many of its oligarchs intended to cut off revenue streams that allow President Vladimir Putin to finance the war in Ukraine that he launched on Feb. 24.
“In this case, gold, after energy, is the second-largest export for Russia and a source of significant revenue for Putin and Russia,” a senior administration official said Sunday.
“The United States Treasury will issue a determination to prohibit the import of new gold into the United States on Tuesday, which will further isolate Russia from the global economy by preventing its participation in the gold market,” the official added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a statement hailed the move, saying the ban will “directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine.”
“Putin is squandering his dwindling resources on this pointless and barbaric war. He is bankrolling his ego at the expense of both the Ukrainian and Russian people,” Johnson continued. “We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding.”
Meanwhile, as the G7 summit was set to begin, Russia launched missile strikes against the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Sunday, hitting at least two residential buildings.
It was the first time Russia’s military had targeted Kyiv in three weeks.
Gold has replaced energy as Russia’s top export in recent years, hitting $19 billion or about 5% of global gold exports in 2020, the White House said.
About 90% of those exports were to countries in the G7.
Of that amount, around $17 billion was exported to Britain, while the US imported less than $200 million in gold from Russia in 2019 and less than $1 million in 2020 and 2021.
Russian oligarchs have increasingly been purchasing gold to ease the financial impact of Western sanctions.
The four-month-long war in Ukraine has severely restricted the global energy market, sending prices skyrocketing, and led to worldwide food shortages, prompting warnings from the United Nations of a “global hunger crisis.”
The leaders of the G7 nations — US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, as well as the European Union — are expected to hold formal and informal talks over the next several days on how to limit Russia from using gas and oil profits to fund the war.
They are also expected to discuss how the war is affecting the global economy.
With Post wires