Allies reject US plan to ban G7 exports from Russia

As part of negotiations leading up to a summit between the most advanced economies of the world, both Japan and EU have rejected a US proposal that G7 countries ban all exports into Russia.

Documents show that a statement to be made by the G7 leaders at their meeting next month in Hiroshima includes a promise to replace Russia’s current sector-by sector sanctions regime with an export ban, with some exceptions. Documents indicate that the full export ban will include exemptions such as agricultural, medical or other products.

Two officials confirmed that the US made the proposal. The proposal comes amid growing frustration in Washington over the current system, which is riddled with loopholes and allows Russia to import western technology.

Three people who were briefed about the discussion said that representatives from Japan, and EU countries had suggested at a meeting preparatory last week that a similar move was not feasible.

One of the officials who spoke under condition of anonymity said, “From our point of view it’s simply not possible.”

The White House National Security Council declined comment on discussions with G7 partners, but stated that the US “continued to look for ways” to hold Russia responsible.

A spokesperson for the NSC said, “In coordination and with our G7 partner have implemented the largest set sanctions and export controls ever imposed on major economies.” These actions have had an impact on Russia’s capability to finance and fight its unjust conflict.

The disagreement over this measure highlights the absence of additional options available for G7 leaders in their quest to increase the economic penalty for Vladimir Putin’s government after 14 months war. This follows a series of sanctions measures designed to cut Russia off from western imports such as technology, machinery, and finance.

The US, UK and EU are focusing on cracking down on third-country sanctions evasion, and circumvention, and increasing pressure is being placed on countries such as Turkey, UAE, and central Asian countries that have increased their trade with Russia after western sanctions were implemented.

The G7 will gather in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 19, for a 3-day summit that will focus on the impact of Russia’s conflict against Ukraine, on economic security, on green investments, and on the Indo-Pacific Region.

All 27 EU members must agree on the policy of sanctions. The EU is a G7 member along with the US, UK France, Germany Italy, Japan, and Canada.

The EU has approved 10 packages of sanctions for Russia since February 2022. However, this agreement was only reached after several weeks of negotiations between member states. Some of which secured exemptions and carve-outs to benefit their own industries, by threatening vetoes.

Officials said that replacing this regime with an export ban and exemptions could reopen these debates, as well as weaken existing measures.

The draft statement could be amended before the summit to include other less controversial proposals, such as more measures against those who “willfully support the financing of Russia’s war” and financial transaction facilitators.

The draft statement states that the G7 will continue to reduce its Russian energy imports, and “prevent [the] reopening (of] avenues previously closed down by Russia’s weaponsisation of energy.” Leaders will also announce plans to implement a “traceability system” for Russian diamonds in order to reduce Kremlin earnings.

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