July 13, 2024

G7 eyes Ukraine funding plan at Italy summit

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G7 leaders gather Thursday for the first day of an Italy summit, seeking to seal a deal on using frozen Russian assets to help war-torn Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will join US President Joe Biden and leaders from Italy, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Japan at the luxury Borgo Egnazia resort in Puglia.

The G7 leaders are hoping to agree on a $50 billion loan for Kyiv, secured against the future profits from interest on 300 billion euros ($325 billion) of Russian central bank assets frozen after the February 2022 invasion.

The European Union — where most of the funds are being held — agreed earlier this year to use the profits for Ukraine, worth up to three billion euros a year.

But the idea at the G7 is to use this to provide more, faster help in the form of a massive upfront loan — although key questions such as who issues the debt and who shares the risk are still being hammered out.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office on Wednesday said a deal had been agreed on providing $50 billion for Ukraine before the end of the year, but said that technical details still needed to be finalised.

Britain, meanwhile, said it would announce up to $310 million in new bilateral assistance to Kyiv at the summit, adding leaders would “explore all lawful avenues by which immobilised Russian assets can be used to support Ukraine”.

The White House also said it expected to announce at the summit “new steps to unlock the value” of the Russian assets. 

But US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was on Wednesday more guarded about what this may entail, saying only that the G7 was working towards announcing “a framework”, including a timeframe.

Zelensky is attending as part of a week of diplomatic efforts to rally support as his country’s outmanned and outgunned forces struggle against Russia.

It will culminate in an international conference on Ukraine in Switzerland this weekend.

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