Russian forces unleashed a barrage of missile attacks Sunday in Ukraine, including strikes on an apartment block and a kindergarten in Kyiv, as the U.S. and its major allies announced plans to impose a ban on gold from Russia to further isolate Moscow from global markets.
President Biden announced the gold ban after arriving Sunday in Germany ahead of this week’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit of leaders from several of the world’s biggest economies.
Mr. Biden and his counterparts from Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada are expected to use the summit to announce increased sanctions on Russia over its months-old Ukraine invasion, while also pushing unity among democracies to counter the global influence of autocracies like China and Russia.
Russia appeared to be trying to preempt the G-7 and major NATO leaders gathering slated for later in the coming week by increasing its attacks in Ukraine.
Russian forces have launched dozens of missiles during the weekend on several areas across the country — far from battles in eastern Ukraine that have dominated the war in recent weeks. Reuters reported that an apartment building and a kindergarten had been hit in Kyiv.
Some of the missiles have been fired from Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time, according to the Ukrainian military’s air command.
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The Associated Press noted that the latest bombardment comes not only against the backdrop of the G-7 gathering but also a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, during which Mr. Putin announced that Russia plans to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system.
In Germany, meanwhile, Mr. Biden and his G-7 counterparts were reported Sunday to be opening pre-summit discussions on how to secure energy supplies and tackle inflation, aiming to keep fallout from the Ukraine war from splintering the global coalition working to punish Moscow.
A formal announcement on the gold ban is expected by Tuesday before the G-7 leaders wrap up their summit.
Senior Biden administration officials said that gold is Moscow’s second-biggest export after energy, and that banning such imports would make it more difficult for Russia to participate in global markets. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details before the announcement.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the ban 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,” Mr. Johnson said. “We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding.”
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Biden administration officials have said the G-7 will also focus on the development of a new global infrastructure partnership meant to provide an alternative to Russian and Chinese investment in the developing world.
“We’ve got to make sure we have us all staying together,” Mr. Biden said Sunday during a pre-summit sit-down with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who holds the G-7′s rotating presidency and is hosting the gathering. “You know, we’re gonna continue working on economic challenges that we face but I think we get through all this.”