Ukraine, Gaza and global security: what to expect from 50th G7 summit

G7 leaders will meet in Italy this week hoping to thrash out an agreement to give further support to Ukraine and end the war in Gaza.

The heads of the world’s seven largest economies – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States – come together in the southern Italian city of Apulia on 13 June for three days of talks, marking the 50th summit held by the powerful Group of Seven (G7) nations.

“Amid a resurgence of authoritarianism worldwide, renewed geopolitical tension, and existential climate crisis, this G7 summit represents more than just another leaders’ forum,” said American Progress: “It is a critical opportunity to reinforce democratic values and restore trust in international institutions through decisive, targeted multilateral action.”

Ukraine

While preparations have been overshadowed by campaigning for the European elections, this is a “critical G7 in charting a course for the West’s approach to the war in Ukraine”, said an editorial in The Telegraph.

The far-right Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, who is hosting her first major international forum since taking office in October 2022, has surprised many by her tough stance towards Russia, which was kicked out of what was the G8 in 2014 after its invasion of Crimea.

Meloni initially “sent shivers throughout the European establishment because of her far-right, euroskeptic credentials and her post-fascist roots”. But in the 18 months since coming to power she has made herself a “critical player on issues like support for Ukraine, something that has distinguished her from other parts of the hard right that tend to be more pro-Russian”, said The New York Times.

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G7 countries have already imposed on Russia the biggest package of sanctions ever placed on a large economy. The country has been blocked from international commerce and the global financial system and an estimated $300 billion (£235 billion) of Russian assets held in G7 territories have been frozen.

Last month the Atlantic Council reported that G7 finance ministers were making “progress” on a plan to use future interest generated by these assets to issue a loan to Ukraine. It is hoped this funding mechanism – which could total $50 billion – will be signed off in Italy this week and form the “centrepiece of support for Ukraine”, said the Financial Times.

According to “people familiar with the matter”, Reuters reported that US officials expect the G7 to also “send a tough new warning” to smaller Chinese banks to “stop assisting Russia in evading Western sanctions”.

Gaza

Just last week, all G7 leaders backed a plan put forward by President Joe Biden to end the war in Gaza.

The joint statement called for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, a significant and sustained increase in humanitarian assistance for distribution throughout Gaza, and an enduring end to the crisis, with Israel’s security interests and Gazan civilian safety assured.

“We reaffirm our support for a credible pathway towards peace leading to a two State solution.”

Biden has told Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani – whose country has played a key role in mediating indirect negotiations between the two sides – that Hamas is now the only obstacle to a Gaza ceasefire deal with Israel, and urged him to press the group to accept it, said Al Jazeera.

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But CBC News said that “other disagreements” among the G7 over the past nine months “may mean the world’s leading economies fail to reach a consensus on a long-term path to peace”.

The G7 is “less than completely unified on other matters concerning the conflict” in Gaza, said the broadcaster, particularly over arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the leaders of Hamas and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While the G7’s official website states that the summit will give “equal importance to the conflict in the Middle East” as it will to Ukraine, divisions within the group mean it could feature less prominently on the summit’s agenda, said Max Bergmann, director for Europe, Russia and Eurasia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

What else is on the agenda?

While Ukraine and Gaza are expected to dominate, Meloni also wants to focus on “Africa and migration, economic security, and international co-operation on artificial intelligence (AI)”, said the BBC.

As well as G7 leaders, the Italian PM has also invited leading EU representatives including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Pope Francis, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, India’s newly re-elected prime minister Narendra Modi, and Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Also invited are leaders from 12 developing countries in Africa, with whom Meloni hopes to discuss her development and cooperation plan for the continent. It would position Italy as an energy hub, although “many commentators suspect it may be a cover to crack down on further migration from Africa”, said the BBC.

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It thought the US is keen for the G7 to take further action on economic security, while the group could also look to build on the Hiroshima AI Process intended to promote “safe, secure, and trustworthy AI worldwide”, which was agreed at the G7 summit in Japan last year.

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