G7 finance ministers to discuss more Russia sanctions

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Group of Seven finance ministers were due to discuss on Thursday possible fresh sanctions against Moscow and more support for Ukraine, a day ahead of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.

The measures imposed have so far succeeded in practically halving Russia’s oil revenues, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said ahead of the talks in Bengaluru, India.

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They have “totally disorganized value chains in Russia, notably in industries as strategic as aeronautics and automobiles”, Le Maire told reporters.

He said the meeting involving US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen should also discuss a fresh $16 billion International Monetary Fund package for Ukraine over four years.

A senior US official said last week that the United States and its G7 allies planned to unveil “a big new package of sanctions” around the February 24 anniversary, including measures to crack down on the evasion of existing sanctions.

“We are seeing the Russians get quite clever -- everything from importing laptops and refrigerators through third countries, including sometimes our own countries, which they then strip-mine for chips and other things that go into their war machine,” said Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

But it was unclear what fresh measures, if any, the ministers would agree on in India.

German officials played down expectations that any decisions on sanctions would be made at the meeting.

It comes ahead of a gathering of G20 finance chiefs and central bank heads on Friday and Saturday in Bengaluru to discuss the dire economic effects of the war and possible debt relief for poorer nations.

About 15 percent of low-income countries are in “debt distress”, the IMF said. A record 349 million people in 79 countries face “acute food insecurity”.

Any discussion on Ukraine is awkward for host India, which has not condemned the invasion. India wants to avoid the word “war” in any final statement, Bloomberg News reported.

It was unclear what level of involvement Russia would have in the wider G20 meeting. German officials said no high-ranking Russian representative will be present.

A meeting of G20 foreign ministers in New Delhi on March 1-2 could be tense, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expected to attend alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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