TELFS, Austria — President Biden and his counterparts in the Group of Seven nations are announcing a ban on new imports of Russian gold in an attempt to further isolate the country from financial markets and punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine.
“The United States has imposed unprecedented costs on Putin to deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war against Ukraine,” Biden tweeted Sunday morning. “Together, the G-7 will announce that we will ban the import of Russian gold, a major export that rakes in tens of billions of dollars for Russia.”
Biden and other leaders of industrialized nations will meet in Germany from Sunday until Tuesday for a summit that is set to be dominated by discussions about the fallout from the war in Ukraine.
Biden, who arrived late Saturday night, attended Mass with a priest from the U.S. Army before starting his day at the summit with a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to discuss the war. He is also attending a lunch with other leaders to talk about the global economy, before delivering remarks in the evening to formally launch a global infrastructure partnership.
During a background briefing with reporters ahead of the day’s summit, administration officials cast the move to ban gold imports as an important demonstration that the world’s largest economies are willing to continue punishing Russia, one of the world’s largest exporters of gold. The official announcement will come Tuesday, according to administration officials, and the U.S. Treasury Department will make a formal determination to prohibit new imports of gold.
“The U.S. has rallied the world in imposing swift and significant economic costs to deny Putin the revenue he needs to finance his war,” said one of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules for the briefing. “In this case, gold — after energy — is the second-largest export for Russia and a source of significant revenue for Putin.”
The official hinted at additional steps that could be taken to further isolate Russia but suggested those would come in the weeks ahead, rather than more immediately as part of the summit.
“This is a key export, a key source of revenue, a key alternative for Russia, in terms of their ability to transact in the global financial system,” the official said. “Taking this step cuts off that capacity and again is an ongoing illustration of the types of steps the G-7 can take collectively to continue to isolate Russia and cut it off from the global economy.”
One aim of the United States and its international partners, the official said, would be to prevent Russia — which has found ways around previous sanctions — from evading the ban on imports. The fact that they have moved toward banning gold imports, administration officials say, was effectively a sign that other ways for Russia to access global financial markets had been cut off.
Russian oligarchs, for example, have sought to purchase gold bullion as a way to avoid the financial impact of Western sanctions, and G-7 leaders hope this will send another signal to Putin’s top allies.
“The measures we have announced today will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as part of his own announcement about the ban on gold imports.
“We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding,” he added. “The U.K. and our allies are doing just that.”
Annabelle Timsit in London contributed to this report.