The United States has said the Group of Seven (G7) nations will ban the import of Russian gold with the aim of tightening sanctions screws on Moscow.
“Together, the G7 will announce that we will ban the import of Russian gold, a major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia,” President Joe Biden said as the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations gathered in the Bavarian Alps.
The measure was initially flagged by the United Kingdom as a joint action being taken along with fellow G7 members, Canada, Japan and the US.
However, a senior US administration representative who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters the G7 would make an official announcement on the gold import ban on Tuesday.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the G7 summit, said the first session on Sunday will be focusing on the global economy and the “very worrying picture” as the conflict in Ukraine drives up inflation and energy prices.
Bays added the sanctioning of Russian gold has been hailed as one of the summit’s achievements and was likely to go ahead. But mindful of their own economies, G7 leaders were unlikely to greenlight any additional sanctions, “particularly gas imports from Russia to Europe”, he said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, on Sunday called on G7 countries to respond to the new missile attack on Kyiv by imposing further sanctions on Russia and providing more heavy weapons to Ukraine.
“This 7 y.o. Ukrainian kid was sleeping peacefully in Kyiv until a Russian cruise missile blasted her home. Many more around Ukraine are under strikes. G7 summit must respond with more sanctions on Russia and more heavy arms for Ukraine,” Kuleba said on Twitter.
Gold exports were a major source of revenue for Russia in terms of their ability to transact with the global financial system.
Last year, they were worth 12.6 billion pounds ($15.45bn) and wealthy Russians have been buying bullion to reduce the financial effect of Western sanctions.
The clampdown was likely to be the most meaningful economic measure against Moscow announced at the G7’s three-day meeting.
The London bullion market had already suspended six Russian refineries in action announced on March 7.
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said in a statement that the gold ban “will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine”.