G-7 leaders commemorate VE Day emphasizing unity, support for Ukraine

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Leaders of the Group of Seven developed democracies pledged on Sunday to phase out or ban imports of Russian oil when they met with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, for online talks to emphasize their support and to show unity among Western allies on Victory in Europe Day. , which marked the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.

Cutting Russia’s oil supply “would hit hard at (President Vladimir) Putin’s main economic artery and deny him the income he needs to fund his war,” the G-7 nations, which include the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France and Italy and Japan, said in a statement.

“We will ensure that we do so in a timely and orderly manner, and in a manner that allows the world time to secure alternative supplies,” they added.

Looking back on World War II, the leaders emphasized unity in their determination that Putin must not win.

“We are indebted to all those who fought for freedom in the Second World War, for continuing to fight today, for the people of Ukraine, Europe and the global community,” they said.

US President Joe Biden’s call with G-7 leaders and Zelenskyy lasted about an hour.

The US also announced new sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. They include cutting out Western advertising from Russia’s three largest television stations, banning US accounting and consulting firms from providing services to any Russian, and heaping additional restrictions on Russia’s industrial sector, including cutting Moscow of wood products, industrial machinery, boilers, bulldozers and again.

The White House announced the new sanctions ahead of Victory Day May 9, when Russia traditionally celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 with a massive military parade.

Putin is expected to speak about what he calls special military operations in Ukraine and address troops on Red Square on Monday.

US and European allies are trying to offer a counter message that Putin is increasingly isolating Russia from the rest of the world and doing great damage to the Russian economy.

The new round of US sanctions will hit three of Russia’s most popular television stations in Russia – Channel One Russia, Russia-1 and NTV – which the US says have been at the forefront of spreading misinformation about Russia’s alleged invasion of Russia.

The Biden administration says new sanctions barring US accounting and consulting firms from doing business in Russia will help thwart Russian companies and elites from getting help to obscure their fortunes and avoid the avalanche of sanctions that have already been imposed.

The US also said it imposed some 2,600 visa restrictions on Russian and Belarusian officials and issued a new visa restriction policy that applies to Russian military officials and authorities.

The US imposed sanctions on 27 executives of Gazprombank, the bank that facilitated the sale by Russia’s Gazprom, one of the world’s largest natural gas exporters, to Europe. The sanctions are the first time the US has hit a bank that plays a key role in Russia’s sizable gas exports, but the move stops short of the full-blown sanctions the US has imposed on other major Russian banks.

Ahead of the call, British officials said Britain would provide an additional 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in military support to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against Russian forces.

The funding, coming from UK government reserves, includes 300 million pounds of military equipment pledged by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week, such as radar systems to target Russian artillery, GPS jamming equipment and night vision devices.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Sunday, visiting the northern city of Irpin, which had been badly damaged by Russia’s attempts to seize the capital Kyiv at the start of the war. The mayor on Sunday posted an image of Trudeau on social media, saying the Canadian leader was shocked by the damage he saw on civilian homes.

Trudeau’s office later said, “the prime minister is in Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm Canada’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people.”

Jill Biden also made a surprise visit on Sunday, holding a surprise Mother’s Day meeting in western Ukraine with first lady Olena Zelenska. Biden traveled under the cloak of secrecy, becoming the latest prominent American to enter Ukraine during the 10-week war with Russia.

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” the US first lady told Zelenska. “I think it’s important to show the Ukrainian people that this war must stop and this war is brutal and that the people of the United States support the Ukrainian people.”

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a televised address that Sunday was “May 8 like no other.”

He said Germany had worked hard to acknowledge its actions during World War II, made peace with Russia and Ukraine and committed to the concept of “never again.” But Russia’s “barbarian” invasion of Ukraine in February had brought war back to Europe, Scholz said, a prospect that once seemed unthinkable.

“Freedom and security will triumph – just as freedom and security won over lack of freedom, violence and dictatorship 77 years ago,” Scholz said in his speech.

German Bundestag President Bärbel Bas, Germany’s second-highest official after the president, met on Sunday with Zelenskyy in Kyiv and attended a memorial service to honor the anniversary of the end of World War II.

“We greatly appreciate that on Remembrance and Reconciliation Day itself, and in this difficult time of war for us, the President of the German Bundestag Bärbel Bas came to support Ukraine,” said a post published on Sunday on the Zelenskyy Telegram channel. .

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