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G7 leaders to announce ban on Russian gold imports in latest sanctions against Kremlin

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By Euronews  with AP
President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Elmau, 26 June 2022
President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Elmau, 26 June 2022   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Leaders of G7 countries plan to announce a ban on gold imports from Russia -- the latest in a series of sanctions the club hopes will further hit Russia's economy over its invasion of Ukraine.

The group of world leaders will huddle on the summit's opening day Sunday to discuss how to secure energy supplies and tackle inflation, aiming to keep the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine from splintering the global coalition working to punish Moscow.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a ban by G7 countries on Russian gold will "directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin's war machine."

"Putin is squandering his dwindling resources on this pointless and barbaric war. He is bankrolling his ego at the expense of both the Ukrainian and Russian people," Johnson said. "We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding."

The value of gold exports to the Russian elite has increased since the war began as wealthy Russians seek to skirt Western sanctions.

It has been the top Russian export after energy in recent years — reaching almost $19 billion (€18bn) or about 5% of global gold exports in 2020 according to the White House.

Of Russian gold exports, 90% was consigned to G7 countries. Of these Russian exports, over 90%, or nearly $17bn, was exported to the UK. The US imported under $1 million in 2020 and 2021.

The G7 was expected to formally announce the ban on Russian gold on Tuesday, according to President Joe Biden's administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details before the announcement.

Biden arrived in Germany's picturesque Bavarian alps early Sunday morning to join his counterparts for the annual meeting of the world's leading democratic economies, where the reverberations from the brutal war in Ukraine will be front and centre in the discussion. 

The leaders of France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the US, Canada, Japan and the European Union attending the summit aim to present a united front in support of Ukraine as the conflict enters its fourth month.

Among the issues to be discussed are price caps on energy which are meant to limit Russian oil and gas profits that Moscow can put to use in its war effort. 

A senior German official, speaking on condition of anonymity consistent with department rules, said the US idea of price caps was being discussed intensely, in terms of how it would work exactly and how it would fit with the US, EU, British, Canadian and Japanese sanctions regimes.

Officials were also set to discuss how to maintain commitments to addressing climate change while also solving critical energy supply needs as a result of the war.

Biden is also set on Sunday to formally launch a global infrastructure partnership meant to counter China's influence in the developing world, which he had named "Build Back Better World" and introduced at last year's G7 summit.

Hours before the summit was set to open, Russia launched missile strikes against the Ukrainian capital Sunday, striking at least two residential buildings, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. They were the first such strikes by Russia in three weeks.