G7: What is the G7 and what is it doing about Ukraine?

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President Joe Biden arrives in Brussels for the G7 summitImage source, Photonews via Getty Images
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US President Joe Biden will attend G7, Nato and EU summits in Brussels

Leaders of the world's seven richest nations are gathering in Brussels to decide what further measures to take against Russia, for its invasion of Ukraine.

They are holding an emergency summit on the same day that leaders of Nato and the EU also meet in Brussels.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says the trio of meetings will show "who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us".

What is the G7?

The G7 (Group of Seven) is an organisation of the world's seven largest so-called "advanced" economies, which dominate global trade and the international financial system. They are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States.

Russia joined in 1998, creating the G8, but was excluded in 2014 for its takeover of Crimea.

China has never been a member, despite its large economy and having the world's biggest population.

Its relatively low level of wealth per person means it's not seen as an advanced economy in the way the G7 members are.

Throughout the year G7 ministers and officials hold meetings, form agreements and publish joint statements on global events.

Germany took over the G7 presidency in January 2022, which means it will host the organisation's annual summit in June.

The EU is not a member of the G7 but attends the annual summit.

What is the G7 doing about Ukraine?

Between them, the G7 nations have already imposed on Russia the biggest package of sanctions ever imposed on a large economy.

They have blocked the country from international commerce and the global financial system, and they have frozen the assets of its wealthiest individuals.

G7 countries who are members of the Nato security alliance have also provided Ukraine with weapons and other military equipment.

Image source, Nur via Getty Images
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Volodymyr Zelensky says the G7 meeting will show "who is our friend ... and who sold us out and betrayed us."

What else could G7 countries do?

The question is whether G7 leaders are prepared to take harsher steps against Russia which would also hurt their own economies.

One key issue is whether to restrict completely the import of Russian oil and gas.

The US is banning all Russian oil and gas imports, and the UK is to phase out Russian oil by the end of the year.

Ukraine's leaders are keen for other G7 nations to follow suit.

Germany has already suspended progress of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It is designed to take gas from the Russian coast near St Petersburg to Lubmin in Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Image source, AFP
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Nord Stream 2 would have doubled gas exports to Germany

But in a tweet, the Ukrainian foreign ministry urged member states to go further, calling on leaders to "stop financing the war, stop paying for Russian energy".

One suggested solution is for European nations to strike a deal with the US to import more of its liquefied natural gas.

The G7 summit could provide an opportunity to discuss this option.

Does the G7 have any power?

It can't pass any laws because it is made up of separate nations with their own democratic processes.

However, some of its past decisions have had global effects.

For example, the G7 played crucial role in setting up a global fund to fight malaria and Aids in 2002.

Ahead of the 2021 G7 summit in the UK, the G7 finance ministers agreed to make multinational companies pay more tax.

It has also provided financial aid to developing countries, and addressed climate change.