Via Teleconference

7:57 A.M. EDT
MODERATOR:  All right.  I think we’ve got folks here.  We’ll go ahead and get started.  Apologies for the delay, everyone, and thanks for hopping on the call.

As a reminder, this call is on background, attributable to a senior administration official.  For your awareness and not for your reporting, here with me is [senior administration official]. 

And this call is embargoed until 8:30 — sorry, it’s embargoed until 5:00 a.m. Japan time tomorrow, May 19th, and 4:00 p.m. Eastern on May 18th, for those of you stateside.

And with that, I’ll turn it over to [senior administration official] for some thoughts at the top, and then we’ll take some of your questions.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, everyone, for joining.  Again, apologies for starting late.  And good evening.

I wanted to start off by taking a quick step back and reiterating our main goals out of the G7 this year.

Of course, since President Biden took office, revitalizing our alliances and partnerships and reestablishing America’s leadership around the world has been one of his top priorities.

And thanks in no small part to his hard work, you will see this on display during the G7 Summit in Hiroshima over the next couple of days.  You will see on display that the G7 is, really, you know, more united now than ever.

This is true, of course, when it comes to our support for Ukraine, as the whole world has seen since the beginning of Russia’s brutal invasion.  But it’s also true in a range of other issues: how we’re approaching the PRC, how we’re protecting economic security, how we’re taking steps to address the climate crisis and accelerate the clean energy transition, and how we’re providing an affirmative agenda for the developing world.

You will see that unfold day by day here in Hiroshima.

Zeroing in on tomorrow, we have a packed agenda, so I’m going to start and really kind of dive deep on what we have on deck just over the next 24 hours.

One of the main areas of focus tomorrow will be showing our shared and continuing support for Ukraine.

Over the last 15 months, since Russia’s brutal invasion began, the G7 has stood in solidarity with Ukraine.

Tomorrow, you will hear a powerful statement of unity, strength, and commitment in our response to Russia’s war of aggression.

We have taken an array of actions to hold Russia accountable.  In coordination with our G7 partners, we’ve put in place the largest set of sanctions and export control actions ever imposed on a major economy.

This is quite a feat, and I’d also remind folks that it was just a little less than a year ago, at the G7 Summit in Elmau last June, that leaders agreed to pursue a policy to cap the price on Russian oil and petroleum products. 

And over the last six months, since that policy was implemented under the guidance the leaders provided in Elmau, we successfully implemented this policy.  It’s achieving its goals, our goals of limiting Russian revenue while also promoting stability in global energy markets.  It’s also driving steep discounts, benefiting low- and middle-income countries that consume oil and energy products.

We remain committed to upholding the price cap.  That includes effective monitoring and enforcement, while also avoiding spillover effects and maintaining global energy security.

Our commitment to continue tightening the screws on Russia remains as strong as it was last year.  And so I think tomorrow you will see new steps taken to economically isolate Russia and to weaken its ability to wage war.

We’re — specifically you’ll see additional commitments in the Ukraine statement to this effect.  You’ll see, one, some significant efforts to further disrupt Russia’s ability to source inputs for its war.  Two, you’ll see efforts to close evasion loopholes.  Three, you’ll see further steps to reduce reliance on Russian energy.  Four, you’ll see continued efforts to squeeze Russia’s access to the international financial system.  And, five, you’ll see an ongoing commitment to keep Russia’s sovereign assets immobilized until the end of the war.

There will be actions to back up those principles that will be articulated in the Ukraine statement.  All G7 members are preparing to implement new sanctions and export controls.  I won’t get into the specifics of what partners are doing, but the United States will be rolling out a substantial package of our own.

So, bottom line is: We’re upping the economic pressure on Russia.

We will continue to expand export controls to make it even harder for Russia to sustain its war machine.  Among other things, this involves extensively restricting categories of goods key to the battlefield, and also cutting off roughly 70 entities from Russia and third countries from receiving U.S. exports by adding them to the Commerce blacklist.

Moreover, we will announce upwards of 300 new sanctions against individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft.  These will go after circumvention.  These will go after financial facilitators, as well as future energy and extractive capabilities of Russia and other actors helping to support the war.  This will include designations across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

We’ll also expand our sanctions authorities to additional sectors of the Russian economy key to its military-industrial complex and impose new bans to prevent Russia from benefiting from our services.

As part of all of these efforts, you will see us take significant steps to align our actions even more closely with the ones imposed by the EU and the UK to ensure that, as the G7, we remain as coordinated as possible in our response to their bru- — to Russia’s brutal actions.

Just one more important note before we move to your questions.  President Biden and the other leaders are here in Hiroshima to participate in the G7, but tomorrow Prime Minister Kishida will take them to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum.  They will pay their respects to the people who lost their lives in this city 78 years ago.

And tomorrow, President Biden will also reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to a nucle- — to nuclear nonproliferation, as reflected in the sessions here in Hiroshima.

And now I’ll turn to answering some of your questions.  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thanks.  First, we’ll go to the line of Demetri.

Q    Hi.  Can you hear me?


Q    Hey, thanks very much.  Good evening.  I want to ask you about the communiqué on Sunday.  And can you give us a sense of how the language on China is going to compare with the language in the G7 communiqué last year?  How much tougher will it be?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So I don’t want to get out ahead of the language in the communiqué, which is still being worked on and worked through.  But I do think what you will see is, again, a historic degree of unity across the G7 across a range of issues, but importantly on the People’s Republic of China as well.

And I think that the types of — the types of principles that you’ve heard from a number of G7 leaders in recent months — the idea that we’re for de-risking, not decoupling; the idea that we have an important need to invest in our own economic vitality, as well as the security and resilience of our supply chains; that we have concerns around the PRC’s non-market policies and practices, their efforts at economic coercion; that we want to protect a narrow category of sensitive technology that can lead to military modernization — I think those types of topics you will ultimately see reflected in the communiqué and, again, underscore the historic degree of alignment the G7 as a whole brings to its approach on China, I think, again, also reflecting the President’s strong leadership in this regard.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  Next up we’ll go to the line of Zeke Miller.

Q    Thanks for doing this.  I was wondering if you can speak to tomorrow.  In particular, will President Zelenskyy be having any direct participation in the meeting?  What will that look like?  Will that be virtual with all the leaders or something separate?

And then secondly, since we’re embargoed here until the morning anyway, is there any way you can give some more details on some of these new sanctioned entities and these export controls, just so we can flesh out our stories for the morning?  Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure.  I mean, I want to be, on the second question, you know, careful there to not get ahead of the specific announcements.
You know, I think what I would do is just, you know, kind of reiterate what I said in the topper, which is, you know, this is going to be a significant effort that will extensively restrict Russia’s access to goods that matter for its battlefield capabilities.  It will cut off roughly 70 entities from Russia and third countries from receiving U.S. exports by adding them to the Commerce blacklist.  And there will be upwards of 300 new sanctions against individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft.

I think, you know, beyond that — you know, I think I would just sort of also highlight the principles that the Ukraine standalone statement will lift up, you know, not just around diminishing Russia’s ability to wage war through its access to key industrial and military inputs but also closing off evasion loopholes, continuing to squeeze both the financial sector as well as the capacity of Russia to produce energy out over the medium to long term, and, importantly, keeping its sovereign assets immobilized as well.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Next up we’ll go over to Kevin Liptak.
Q    Yes, thank you.  Wondering how much you expect the President — President Biden’s counterparts to raise the debt ceiling issue in their meetings tomorrow.  Do you expect it to come up at all?  And if it does, can the President — what will his message be if these leaders express some concern about a potential default?  Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure.  I mean, I think that — I think that, you know, the President I think will convey what he has been conveying for some significant time, which is, you know, the G7 is a moment when the United States comes together with its key allies and partners to help shape an agenda to make a difference in the world — make a difference for our own economic vitality, the prosperity of our citizens, to address emerging challenges in the world, to address ongoing conflicts like what we see in Ukraine.
And our ability to do that as a G7 is, of course, you know, kind of undergirded by, you know, ongoing leadership from the United States. 
And, of course, you know, to the extent that debt ceiling brinkmanship that Republicans are driving in Washington, D.C., undermines American leadership, undermines the trustworthiness that America can bring to not just our allies and partners but to the rest of the world, undermines the ongoing centrality of the U.S. financial system in the global economy by calling into question the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury — all of those things reduce America’s capacity to lead; reduce our ability to do things like deliver tough sanctions of the kind that we will deliver tomorrow, which are predicated on that ongoing centrality of the U.S. financial system; and will, as a result, undermine the capacity of the G7 to really continue shaping the world and delivering for its own citizens but also citizens of the world more broadly.
So, I do think that it will be an opportunity to highlight just how central it is that Republicans work to get this done expeditiously with the President, because a lot is — a lot is riding on ensuring that the United States continues to lead and lead alongside the G7.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And our last question will go to Annie Linskey.  You should be able to unmute yourself.
Q    Thank you so much.  I just — I wanted to follow up, honestly, on Zeke Miller’s question from earlier about whether or not — what the participation level will be for President Zelenskyy.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, you know, President Zelenskyy has always participated in sort of prior — prior G7 leaders’ engagements on Ukraine.  We would expect that in one way, shape, or form, you know, over the summit, that we’ll have a chance for leaders to engage with President Zelenskyy, just as has been true in every occasion that G7 leaders have gotten together since the start of the war 15 months ago.
MODERATOR:  Thanks, everyone.  That’s all the time we have.  I appreciate you joining.  As a reminder, the call is embargoed until 5:00 a.m. Japan time on May 19th and 4:00 p.m. Eastern, May 18th, in the U.S.  Thanks again, everyone.  Have a good night.
8:12 A.M. EDT


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