The Group of Seven (G7) countries are reportedly mulling over an almost complete ban on exports to Russia, in a move to further intensify sanctions as Moscow’s war in Ukraine grinds on.
Russia has for a while stopped publishing import figures, but according to data from Trade Data Monitor, Europe, the US, Canada, and Japan still export about $66 billion worth of goods to Russia. The near-total ban would likely exempt medicine and agricultural products but would expand the ban to include cars, tires, beer, footwear, clothing, and cosmetics.
If implemented, the embargo could push Russia closer to China to fill the gap. The trade between the two autocratic nations grew 38.7% in the first quarter of 2023, with Russia already poised to take over the US as China’s largest trade partner.
Russia has so far found ways to circumvent sanctions through trade with third countries. If the near-total ban is implemented, it is also likely to retaliate. With earlier sanctions, Moscow imposed its own export bans and has periodically cut energy supplies to Europe. Europe also still relies on Russia for commodities like copper, iron, nickel, and palladium.
G7 leaders will meet on May 19-21 in Hiroshima, Japan. They are expected to discuss measures to expand support for Ukraine, and not just intensify sanctions against Russia but to also address its evasion of those that have already been implemented.
Meanwhile, when asked about the possibility of a near-total ban at a press briefing last week, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno refrained from directly commenting on the matter.
“What is important for ending Russian aggression as soon as possible is that G7 remains united for severe sanctions against Russia and strong support for Ukraine,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been invited by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to join the summit online.
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