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G-7 leaders deepen support for Ukraine; Russia advances in east

U.S. President Joe Biden is in Europe this week for a series of major meetings as he works with Western allies to counter Russia and China and build support for Ukraine. In Ukraine, the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk has fallen to Russian forces.

(CN) — Meeting at a resort in Bavaria, the Group of Seven leaders heard from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday and pledged their support to Kyiv for “as long as it takes.”

U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Germany on Sunday to attend a three-day G-7 summit ahead of a two-day NATO meeting in Madrid where the military alliance will lay out its future strategy to counter not only Russia but also for the first time China. NATO also is expected to announce a major boost in troop levels in Central and Eastern Europe.

The high-level meetings of Western leaders are dominated by the war in Ukraine, which has been raging for 124 days and led to the deaths of thousands of civilians and soldiers and left Ukrainian towns and cities in ruins.

At the Bavarian resort of Schloss Elmau in Germany, the G-7 leaders discussed how to impose more pain on Russia to punish it for its invasion of Ukraine.

They were looking at a price cap on Russian oil and a ban on Russian gold imports. But doubts remained about how feasible a price cap would be and whether a ban on gold imports would be effective.

The effects of the West's harsh sanctions forced Russia into formally defaulting on its sovereign debt for the first time since the Russian Revolution in 1918. A deadline for the debt payments passed on Sunday.

The default was caused by Western sanctions that have left Moscow unable to make payments in foreign currencies. The default, therefore, is largely symbolic because Russia has a huge budget surplus from high-priced energy exports.

The Russian Ministry of Finance offered to make the debt payments using rubles, a proposal that was rejected. Moscow therefore disputed the default.

In Ukraine, the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk was seized by Russia and its eastern Ukrainian allies on Saturday. By Monday, they were attacking the neighboring city of Lysychansk and pressing forward in the Kharkiv region.

In what many see as a provocation as G-7 leaders meet, Russia launched dozens of missiles over the weekend and into Monday at targets across Ukraine, including on the capital Kyiv where a residential building was struck. That strike killed at least one person and injured several others, including a 7-year-old girl. Biden called the attack on Kyiv “barbaric.”

Russia's defense ministry said its missiles struck military facilities and that the strike on the Kyiv residential building could have been the result of a failure of Ukraine’s air defense system.

This week's G-7 and NATO summits seem destined to see Western support for Ukraine deepen and the clash between Russia and the West escalate even further.

“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the G-7 said in a statement Monday.

American media reported that the United States is set to announce plans to purchase an advanced Norwegian medium and long-range surface-to-air defense systems for Ukraine. Zelenskyy has been pleading for such weapons to help Ukraine shoot down Russian missiles over its cities.

Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.

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