What to watch from Joe Biden’s trip to the G7

Rising costs – in part due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – will be at the heart of Sunday’s agenda, where leaders will simultaneously seek to maintain pressure on Moscow while seeking ways to ease the price spikes that cost them politically.

This could prove to be a difficult task. Bans on Russian energy have contributed to a spike in global oil prices, but leaders are loath to ease sanctions they say have an effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economy. One area in which they have announced action: to ban imports of new Russian gold.

“This is a key export, a key revenue stream, a key alternative for Russia, in terms of its ability to transact in the global financial system. Taking this step reduces that ability,” said a senior administration official.

The decision exposed the divisions in American politics and institutions, which acted as an ominous subtext for leaders observing Biden’s attempts to restore American leadership.

Here are several things to watch for at Sunday’s G7 summit:

find the balance

Biden and his fellow G7 leaders will discuss ways to punish Russia while managing a volatile global economy during their first day of talks Sunday in the Bavarian Alps. The conversations will produce announcements and “muscle movements”, according to a senior White House official.

“A big priority of the G7 and the leaders is going to be, you know, how not only do we deal with the challenges in the global economy in the wake of Mr. Putin’s war, but how do we also continue to hold Mr. Putin accountable and for his sake. ‘ensure he bears the costs and the consequences of what he does,’ said John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council, as Biden flew to Europe.

Biden’s first engagement on Sunday will be a bilateral meeting with summit host German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, followed by the opening G7 session focused on global economic issues that have been deepened by the war in Ukraine.

“I think leaders are going to be looking for ways to do two things: one, continue to hold Mr. Putin accountable and increase the costs and consequences of his war against him and his economy,” Kirby said. “And second, to minimize as much as possible the effect of this oil price hike and the way it has weaponized energy on nations, particularly on the continent but also around the world.”

That balance will define this year’s G7, as leaders struggle to maintain their pressure campaign on Putin while dealing with rising inflation that has politically cost some leaders home. Biden remarked on G7 and NATO solidarity on Ukraine and the Russian invasion, telling Scholz ahead of the two leaders’ meeting that the groups must remain unified.

“We have to stick together. As Putin hoped from the start, NATO and the G7 would somehow break up, but we haven’t and we’re not going to. “, said Biden.

Leaders agreed to announce a ban on imports of new gold from Russia, Biden said on Twitter Sunday morning. Gold is Russia’s second largest export product after energy.

Biden has weathered some of the harshest backlash as he saw his approval ratings plummet amid a price hike.

“There may well be a growing pressure in American politics, in the sense that some people in the primaries that we’ve seen before said I don’t care about Ukraine. What matters is the cost of the life,” a European official said before that. one week trip. “And if the president got a rebound in the polls because of his leadership over Ukraine, that will dissipate very quickly. So there will be that effect.”

Homecoming Division

Biden said Friday that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority “made the United States an exception among the developed nations of the world” by removing the nation’s right to abortion.

Two days later, he will come face to face with the leaders of those nations in the Bavarian Alps, leaving behind a rapidly dividing country whose turbulent politics have caused global concern.

The White House does not believe the decision or the rifts currently dividing America will factor into Biden’s talks.

“There are real national security issues here that need to be discussed and the president has no fear whatsoever that the Supreme Court ruling will take that away,” Kirby said.

Still, four of the six other leaders Biden is joining in Germany found the decision monumental enough to weigh on their own.

“I have to tell you that I think this is a big step backwards,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It’s a “devastating setback,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. French President Emmanuel Macron and Scholz were also critical.

Whether the decision will be brought up in Biden’s private talks remains to be seen. But the fundamentally changed and divided country he left behind will never be far from mind as he represents it on the world stage.

Challenge China

At last year’s G7 summit on England’s Cornish coast, Biden pressed fellow leaders to insert tough new language condemning China’s human rights abuses in a final statement. Prior to the document, the group had sometimes heated conversations behind closed doors about their collective approach to China.

The topic can lead to tense conversations, as some European leaders don’t necessarily share Biden’s view of China as an existential threat. Still, the president has made it clear on several occasions that he hopes to convince his fellow leaders to take a tougher line. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has amplified the president’s repeated warnings about autocracies versus democracies.

On Sunday afternoon, Biden is expected to unveil, alongside other leaders, an infrastructure investment package targeting low- and middle-income countries designed to compete with China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Beijing has invested billions in building roads, railways and ports around the world to forge new trade and diplomatic ties. Biden has launched a similar program in the past, dubbing it Build Back Better World.

But with that name seemingly retired, the White House is renewing the effort in Germany.

About Wanda Reilly

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