Leaders from the Group of Seven nations agreed new sanctions on May 19 that they said would “starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine”.
The move comes after the United States, Britain and the European Union all announced fresh efforts to turn the screws on Moscow, 15 months into Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The bloc, meeting in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, said that they would move to further restrict Russia’s access to G7 economies.
“We will broaden our actions to ensure that exports of all items critical to Russia’s aggression... are restricted across all our jurisdictions,” they said in a statement.
“We will starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine,” added the bloc, which includes Britain, the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and the European Union.
The grouping said they would step up efforts to prevent circumvention of their existing sanctions regime, “including targeting entities transporting material to the front”
Earlier Friday, the United States and other members announced their own new measures, with a senior US administration official saying another 70 entities from Russia and “other countries” would be placed on a US blacklist.
London, meanwhile, took aim at Russia’s $4-5 billion annual trade in diamonds, announcing a ban on the import of the gems, along with copper, aluminium and nickel.
The G7 statement also pledged to “restrict trade in and use of diamonds mined, processed or produced in Russia”, including with the use of tracing technologies.
EU member Belgium is among the largest wholesale buyers of Russian diamonds, along with the United Arab Emirates and India, whose prime minister Narendra Modi will join the G7 talks this weekend.
Leaders visit Hiroshima memorial in shadow of new threats
Under a gunmetal sky and driving rain, leaders of some of the world’s most powerful nations gathered in Hiroshima on Friday to confront the horrors of nuclear weapons.
G7 leaders, including the heads of nuclear-armed Britain, France and the United States, arrived at the city’s Peace Park to a sodden red carpet welcome from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima.
The Japanese leader — whose wife wore a gold pin shaped like an origami crane, an unofficial symbol of the city’s nuclear legacy -- wants to put disarmament on the agenda as the bloc holds three days of talks.
Kishida once guided then-US president Barack Obama in the city during his historic visit, and has said achieving a world free of nuclear weapons is his life’s work.
But while the scene of leaders, including American President Joe Biden, laying wreaths at Hiroshima’s cenotaph was heavy on symbolism, disarmament talks may be light on substance.
Britain, France and the United States alone possess thousands of warheads, and the bloc’s remaining members — including Japan — are covered by Washington’s “nuclear umbrella”.
And there appears to be little appetite to reduce stockpiles elsewhere, with Moscow making thinly veiled threats to use the weapons, China expanding its arsenal and North Korea stoking fears of a new nuclear test with a barrage of missile launches.
Kishida is hoping to convince his counterparts to back his “Hiroshima Action Plan”, unveiled last year, which focuses on transparency around existing stockpiles and a commitment to non-proliferation.
The leaders began their visit with a stop at the Hiroshima Peace Museum, which contains graphic evidence of the devastation and suffering caused by the US nuclear attack on August 6, 1945.
Media were barred from the museum amid speculation about whether the leaders would visit only the building’s east wing, which describes the dangers of nuclear war, or also pass through the main building, which contains upsetting photos of victims with horrific injuries and heart-rending artefacts including the carbonised tricycle of a child.
By the end of their visit, which lasted around half an hour, the rain had stopped and the sky brightened.
Schoolchildren handed each leader a wreath of white flowers that were placed simultaneously on podiums before the arched concrete dome of the Hiroshima cenotaph, with its eternal flame and plaque reading: “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.”
After a moment of silence, there was a group ceremony to plant a cherry blossom sapling, propagated from a tree that survived the atomic blast.
Japan’s foreign ministry said the leaders’ visit “deepened their understanding of the reality of the atomic bombings”.
The leaders also met with Keiko Ogura, who was eight when the bomb was dropped.
She recounted her experience, describing how a flash in the sky had preceded scorching heat, blast waves and deadly radiation.
“Nuclear weapons bring misery and suffering to people for such a long time. That’s what I wanted to tell them. I think I was able to do that,” the 85-year-old told Fuji TV after the meeting.
“I think I was able to convey to them how we all... want a world without nuclear weapons.”
Speaking to AFP earlier this week, survivor Masao Ito, who was four at the time of the attack, said he had a clear message for the group.
“If you have nuclear weapons, you may be tempted to use them, and accidents can happen,” the 82-year-old said. “It’s simply better not to have them.”
“As long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, there is a possibility that your city could become like Hiroshima.”