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No Impunity for Russia's Aggression in Ukraine

Denisse Rudich, G7 Research Group London
May 21, 2023

The first day of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, on May 19, 2023, was dominated by discussions on Russia's war in Ukraine.  G7 leaders released the G7 Leaders' Statement on Ukraine in a show of unity detailing additional measures against Russia shortly after it was announced that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky would make an appearance at this year's summit. Throughout the day, leaders from G7 members announced new sanctions packages or steps taken to issue new sanctions to drive up the costs of Russian unilateral aggression. US officials indicated that the G7 looked to disrupt the ability of Russia to get materials to support its war efforts, closed loopholes that allow sanctions evasion, decrease the world's reliance on Russian energy, and further limit Russian acted to international finance.

G7 Statement on Ukraine

The G7 Statement on Ukraine began by reaffirming the commitment of G7 leaders "to stand together against Russia's illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine." This includes a commitment to increase the cost of waging war by Russia and its supporters through more sanctions and additional measures. The US Treasury, earlier in the week, had released an update on the impact of the price cap adopted by the G7 and its allies on Russia.

The statement is divided into 11 sections and contains 67 new G7 commitments on Ukraine. In addition to the preamble and conclusion, it covers the following topics:

The statement condemns Russia's "irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, undermining of arms control regimes, and stated intent to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus" as inadmissible. G7 leaders expressed their commitment to diplomacy, support for President Volodymyr Zelensky's Peace Formula and determination to help Ukraine secure "a free and democratic future" for its people. On nuclear safety and security, the G7 expressed support for the International Atomic Energy Agency's work on strengthening nuclear safety and security and the application of safeguards to nuclear materials and facilities in Ukraine and around the world. The G7 committed to ongoing security assistance to Ukraine, flagging the importance of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group to coordinate military and defence assistance.

To boost recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, G7 members have agreed to provide budget support for Ukraine for 2023 and 2024, welcomed the International Monetary Fund's Extended Fund Facility to stabilize Ukraine's economy and catalyse private sector financing. The G7 further welcomed progress made by the Multi-agency Donor Coordinating Platform for Ukraine, citing its central role in coordinating Ukraine's needs to donor support, and expressed readiness to "support the sustainable and resilient recovery and green reconstruction of Ukraine." To further advance recovery and reconstruction, the G7 cited efforts by the World Bank Group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, development finance institutions, the establishment of the Support for Ukraine's Reconstruction and Economy (SURE) Trust Fund at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and the unveiling of the Ukraine Investment Platform in Tokyo.

With regards to anti-corruption efforts, the G7 welcome and encourage Ukraine's implementation of the reform agenda for better governance and to boost investor confidence. This includes supporting efforts to build institutions, carrying out legal reform "in line with Europe's path" in the judicial sector and promoting the rule of law. On responsibility for war damages, the G7 indicated that its members would continue efforts to make sure that Russia pays for Ukraine's reconstruction and welcomed the creation of the Registry of Damages Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine under the auspices of the Council of Europe. In reference to the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force, the G7 committed to "find, restrain, freeze, seize, and where appropriate, confiscate or forfeit the assets of those individuals and entities that have been sanctioned in line with Russian aggression." The G7 are in the process of mapping Russia's assets held by each country. The G7 further confirmed that Russian assets would remain "immobilized until Russia pays for the damages it has cause to Ukraine."

The G7 clearly states that "there must be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities," committing to create accountability for Russia's attacks against civilians and critical infrastructure in Ukraine. The G7 stressed its expressed commitment to support efforts by the International Criminal Court. The G7 further condemned the movement of Ukrainian children to Russia and conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. The G7 welcomed the creation of the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine and efforts to protect the education of children by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The G7 reaffirmed its commitment to vulnerable countries affected by Russia's war on Ukraine, citing the weaponization of food that has driven food insecurity and malnutrition to "unprecedented levels." G7 leaders expressed a commitment to continue working together to limit the impact of the global energy crisis exacerbated by Russia's war in Ukraine.

The G7 statement devoted more than a page on sanctions and other measures. The section began by stating that the G7 will stay united in issuing coordinated sanctions and other economic actions. This includes by:

The G7 indicated that it will continue to work through the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force and the Enforcement Coordination Mechanism to make measures more effective. The G7 will further continue to engage with 3rd countries that are engaged in the re-export of G7 goods, services or technologies. The G7 further called on third parties to stop providing material support to Russia or face consequences. The G7 will work with countries to diversify their supply chain and decrease reliance on "civil nuclear and related goods" as well as decreasing Russia's profits made from metals.

The G7 is looking to "starve Russia" of technology, industrial equipment and services while allowing for the unrestricted flow of agricultural, medical and humanitarian products and mitigating negative impact on 3rd countries. The G7 strongly condemned the weaponization of food and energy by Russia.

G7 + Partner Countries Announce More Sanctions

With regards to additional sanctions measures, several G7 countries announced additional measures and countries are expected to continue coordinating action against Russia. The REPO Task Force, which includes G7 members and Australia, announced earlier in the year that it had locked or seized over $58 billion in Russian assets. The United Kingdom, which has designated more than 1,500 persons and legal entities and frozen more than £18 billion in assets, announced plans to sanction an additional 86 individuals and entities. The sanctions target those involved in the theft and subsequent sale of Ukrainian grain by Russia, shipment of Russian energy, advanced military technology produced by Rosatom and its affiliates, and revenue sources that remain. The UK government further indicated that sovereign assets would remain frozen until Russia agreed to pay for damages in Ukraine. Additional sanctions target persons and entities operating in the energy, metals, transport, defence and the banking sectors. The UK is set to ban diamond imports as well as Russian-origin copper, aluminium and nickel under legislation to be introduced later in 2023.

Canada also announced further sanctions against 70 persons on entities and individuals that provide military technology and know-how to networks of armed forces and the Kremlin elite, and those involved in human rights violations and the displacement of Ukrainian children to Russia. The United States, which has sanctioned thousands of persons, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, announced sanctions on more than 300 targets as follows:

Sanctions have been applied on natural and legal persons, vessels, aircrafts, "financial facilitators," future energy capabilities, and persons and entities across Asia, the Middle East and Europe that have been sustaining Russia's war in Ukraine. More exports controls will also be applied. The US Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security also issued a new alert to help regulated firms identify sanctions and export control evasion strategies.

At the European Union, which includes France, Germany and Italy, work is ongoing on the 11th sanctions package against Russia. European Council president Charles Michel announced during a press briefing just before the Hiroshima Summit began that the EU is exploring sanctions on Russian diamonds but that internal deliberations remain. The EU is looking to "to stop Russia's war machine," however, strong focus remains in tackling sanctions evasion by foreign and regional companies and engaging with third countries to address loopholes. Japan also announced asset freezes on over 100 individuals and legal entities and prohibit exports to entities tied to Russia's military.

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Denisse Rudich is director of the G7 and G20 Research Groups (London). She is also founder and CEO of Rudich Advisory and a global champion of financial crime prevention initiatives, including identifying and preventing sanctions evasion in the international financial system.

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