Solidarity behind fight between Ukraine and Russia at the top of summit agendas | business news

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Back-to-back summits of world leaders in Europe this weekend will focus on rallying Western nations behind Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion and overcoming Turkey’s opposition to Finnish and Swedish membership. in NATO.

The main economic powers of the Group of Seven – the United States, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – will hold their annual meeting from Sunday to Tuesday in the Bavarian Alps in Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the G-7 this year.

After the G-7 concludes, the leaders of the 30 countries of the NATO alliance will meet for their annual summit, which will take place from Wednesday to Thursday in Madrid.

A look at some of the key issues and topics on the table as President Joe Biden prepares to join both summits:

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Russia’s war in Ukraine will loom large at both summits, as leaders seek to project a united front against Kremlin aggression that has devastated Ukraine and plunged Europe and much of the world into economic and other crises.

Nations represented at back-to-back meetings sent billions of dollars in aid and weapons to Ukraine and closed ranks in their strident condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Ukraine received another boost on Thursday when European Union leaders swiftly and unanimously approved its application to become a candidate to join the 27-nation bloc, although the accession process is likely to take years.

The United States and the European Union have imposed damaging economic sanctions on oligarchs in Moscow and Putin, but major markets, including China and India, continue to buy Russian oil, diluting the effects of Western sanctions.

NATO FOR FINLAND AND SWEDEN

An important unresolved issue for the NATO summit is the membership of Finland and Sweden.

Russia’s war in Ukraine scared the Nordic countries so much that they abandoned long-held policies of neutrality and applied to join the military alliance. All 30 member nations must sign the applications. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg supports the bid, and Biden showed his strong support by hosting the leaders of both countries in the Oval Office.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has so far stalled his swift admission, objecting to membership and pressuring both countries to change their stance on Kurdish rebels Turkey views as terrorists.

All sides have been trying to find a way to break the deadlock, but whether Erdogan’s concerns can be addressed to his satisfaction in Madrid remains an open question. Sweden and Finland were invited and are expected to attend.

Founded to contain the Soviet Union, NATO is ready to declare for the first time that confronting the rise of China is also part of its mission.

In Madrid, the alliance will unveil a new “Strategic Concept”, the first update to its guiding principles since 2010, which makes explicit reference to addressing China’s challenges. The alliance also invited Pacific leaders from Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia to the summit.

The document marks a significant milestone in US efforts, under multiple presidents, to expand the alliance’s focus to China, even in the face of an increasingly bellicose Russia.

The Biden administration maintains that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has “bolstered” democracies in the face of threats from autocracies in both Moscow and Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused NATO of trying to “start a new Cold War” and warned against the alliance “drawing ideological lines that may induce confrontation.”

The leaders of the G7 economies are likely to approve a package of new climate change measures that effectively require countries to stop burning coal for electricity by 2035, report transparently on their fossil fuel subsidies and ensure that electric cars dominate new car sales by the end of the decade. decade.

Senior G7 officials also recognized for the first time the need to provide developing countries with additional financial assistance to cope with the loss and damage already occurring due to global warming. Rich nations have long resisted such a move, fearing they could be forced to take expensive offset payments for decades of greenhouse gas emissions.

Poor countries want the G-7 to commit real money, as previous pledges of $100bn in climate aid by 2020 went unfulfilled.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hopes they will also back his idea of ​​an international “climate club” whose members agree on minimum standards to avoid a patchwork of emissions-related rules and tariffs.

Russia sees Europe’s need for natural gas as a problem that could weaken the alliance backing Ukraine. That means Biden must bring as much US liquefied natural gas to Europe as possible, which requires new terminals for shipping. Natural gas prices on US futures markets are up about 70% year-to-date.

Russia is also a major oil producer, and the war has pushed global benchmark prices up 40% so far this year, driving gasoline prices higher in the US and in the US. all the world.

Biden sees gasoline at close to $5 a gallon in the US as a risk to fellow Democrats heading into the midterms, a preview of the risks European leaders could face this winter due to the natural gas costs.

Natural gas shortages and higher prices are putting enormous financial pressure on Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, the Czech Republic and Denmark, among others.

Russia has cut exports of natural gas needed to generate electricity and provide heating, prompting Germany, which has relied on Russia for 35% of its gas imports, to ask factories to cut energy use and switch coal as a source of energy.

Summit participants will also discuss how Russia’s war is affecting global food security.

Russia is blocking the shipment of around 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain to the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia, which could worsen hunger and food security in those regions. The global shortage of fertilizers is also a cause for concern.

In response, Western powers have pledged billions of dollars in aid. The UN has been working on a deal that would allow Ukraine to export food, including through the Black Sea, and Russia would bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

To deliver Ukraine’s food supplies to the world, Europe is also seeking to increase rail and truck shipments, but its efforts have offset only a fraction of the capacity of Black Sea ports.

Russia blames Western sanctions for the crisis, although the measures imposed by the Europeans do not prohibit the import and transport of Russian agricultural products or the payment of Russian imports.

GLOBAL INFLATION AND THE ECONOMY

The fallout from higher food and energy costs is likely to push much of Europe into recession, creating a worrying dynamic as Germany and other countries juggle high inflation and risks of a severe recession. .

G-7 leaders are likely to focus on how to boost growth while lowering inflation, a unique challenge as central banks raise interest rates to slow economic activity.

The value of the euro has plunged over the past year relative to the US dollar as multiple reports point to a slowdown.

Meanwhile, Biden is also fending off predictions from leading economists that a US recession is likely. He told The Associated Press in an interview last week that a recession “is not inevitable.”

But avoiding a recession would require the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rates to reduce inflation from a 40-year high without causing a rise in unemployment.

Biden will arrive at both summits in a different political venue than he did last year.

Europe is followed by a US public approval rating of 30, the lowest of his presidency, with consumers complaining about the impact of stickers in the supermarket and at the gas station. He also faces the prospect of his party losing control of Congress in the November elections.

While Biden is abroad, the conservative-leaning US Supreme Court could issue a long-awaited decision that could overturn the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade who established the legal right to abortion.

Some of Biden’s counterparts are in a similar situation.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is weakened after surviving a recent vote of no confidence. He suffered further blows this week when voters rejected his Conservative Party in two special elections and the party’s chairman resigned after the results were announced.

French President Emmanuel Macron overcame a strong challenge from a far-right rival to win re-election in April, but his centrist alliance later failed to win an outright majority in parliamentary elections.

Associated Press writers Josh Boak and Zeke Miller in Washington, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Mike Corder and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels, and Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.

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