G7 plans to use frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine

G7 plans to use frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine

33 minutes agoBy Alex Smith, BBC NewsEPARussian attacks on Ukraine have left the country cash-starved and war-weary

Leaders from seven of the world’s richest nations are gathering in Italy for a summit expected to agree a plan to use frozen Russian assets to raise billions of dollars for Ukraine.

The US proposal could raise $50bn (£39bn) a year for Ukraine, as well as applying fresh economic pressure to Russia.

Also expected to be on the agenda at the G7 summit are the war in Gaza, migration, economic security and artificial intelligence (AI).

The summit comes as a number of leaders – including Rishi Sunak, Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden – face electoral challenges back home.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is down in the polls ahead of a general election next month.

Also facing the voters in a matter of weeks is the party of French President Emmanuel Macron, who called a snap parliamentary election after a resounding loss to the far-right National Rally in last weekend’s elections to the EU’s parliament.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden themselves could face defeat the next time voters head to the polls.

Italy’s Giorgia Meloni has boasted that her country was heading into this summit with “the strongest government of all”, after a strong performance in the European elections last weekend.

The US proposal for Ukraine would see Kyiv granted the money in a loan, secured by the interest on the $325bn of Russian assets that the group, alongside the EU, froze after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Under international law, countries cannot confiscate those assets from Russia and give them to Ukraine.

It is hoped that if passed, the plan would give cash-starved and war-weary Ukraine another vital lifeline.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to attend the conference and will sign a new security arrangement with the US.

With President Biden in the middle of a close election contest himself, and several other Western leaders lagging in the polls, there is pressure to deliver support to Ukraine while they still can.

Elsewhere, Mr Sunak is set to announce up to $309m in support for Ukraine’s energy and humanitarian needs.

Before heading to Puglia, he said that allies had to be “decisive and creative in our efforts to support Ukraine and end [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s illegal war at this critical moment”.

But the shaky political situation in many G7 countries is causing some observers to have low expectations about what can be achieved.

Natalie Tocci, the director of the Italian Institute for International Affairs, warns that, “if anything will come out of this summit, it’s the fear of a catastrophe playing out before our eyes,” with possible new governments led by Donald Trump in the US and the far-right in France on the horizon.

Also on the agenda is the climate crisis, migration from Africa to Europe, the war in Gaza and AI.

Pope Francis – who will become the first pontiff to attend a G7 summit – will be addressing the subject of artificial intelligence at the conference.

He has previously called for global regulation of AI, warning of its danger to ethics and human rights.

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