President Joe Biden, accompanied by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and European Council President Charles Michel, addresses the media at Schloss Elmau, Germany, during the G7 Summit. Photo via The White House/UPI | License Photo
June 27 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on G7 leaders to make a major push to end Russia's invasion of Ukraine by the end of the year in a virtual address at the group's meeting on Monday.
Zelensky's plea in a closed gathering with G7 leaders comes after Russia rained down missiles on Kyiv Sunday for the first time in weeks while the Kremlin celebrated the capture of the key Ukrainian eastern hub of Severodonetsk in its war that started in February.
The G7, made up of the leading Western economic government including the United States, is meeting in the Bavarian Alps in Austria. Western European countries have struggled to contain Russia's war efforts through sanctions, with many of them dependent on Russia's energy sources such as natural gas and oil.
In response to sanctions, Russia has pulled back on its energy commitments in Europe.
Zelensky asked the G7 leaders for reconstruction aid, anti-aircraft defense systems, help on grain exports and security guarantees, along with ways to "intensify sanctions," according to the Business Standard.
Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelensky's office, said the G7 should respond to Sunday's Kyiv air strike with a full natural gas embargo. Others stressed unity as the key component in challenging Russia.
In a joint statement, President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of using "natural gas as a political and economic weapon."
"Russia's energy coercion has put pressure on energy markets, raised prices for consumers, and threatened global energy security," they said in the statement. "This was most recently demonstrated by the politically motivated acute disruptions of gas supplies to several European Union member states."
In an effort to try to choke off Russia's ability to finance its war in Ukraine, G7 leaders decided on new steps to isolate Russia's economy, including a ban on new imports of Russian gold, and discussing capping prices on Russian oil.
G7 leaders are also talking about new wide-ranging sanctions that could include new bans on Russian defense supply chains, private military companies and new visa restrictions on 500 officials. They also discuss sanctions on Moscow for human rights abuses and war crimes.