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Canada to contribute $5B to Ukraine loan as G7 leaders reach accord on Russian assets

SAVELLETRI DI FASANO — Canada will contribute $5 billion toward a loan to Ukraine that will be based on future revenue from frozen Russian assets, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday in Italy.

SAVELLETRI DI FASANO — Canada will contribute $5 billion toward a loan to Ukraine that will be based on future revenue from frozen Russian assets, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday in Italy.

Leaders of the G7 countries have agreed to engineer a US$50-billion loan to help Ukraine in its fight against Russian invaders. It would use interest earned on profits from Russia's frozen central bank assets as collateral.

The long-awaited decision came on the first day of the G7 leaders' summit taking place in Apulia, Italy.

The three-day summit is an opportunity for collaboration among the leaders of the wealthy democracies — France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Japan.

Canada has been heavily involved in the U.S.-led push to use the frozen assets to help Ukraine, something the federal government has flaunted during the summit.

"We're very happy that this is something that leaders have been able to make a political commitment to today," said Cindy Termorshuizen, the personal representative of the prime minister for the G7 summit.

"There's some technical work to be done. But we're really confident that this is going to bring US$50 billion to Ukraine."

The G7 announced it was freezing Russian central bank assets in 2022, shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In a bilateral meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday, Trudeau commended the G7 for the latest announcement.

"Canada's actually the first country to announce $5 billion of that will be a Canadian contribution," he said.

Zelenskyy thanked Trudeau "for your loud voice" in support of Ukraine.

A government source not authorized to discuss matters publicly said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was making calls last month to her G7 counterparts to drum up support for an agreement to use the assets to deliver more financial help to Ukraine.

As leaders announced the increased support on Thursday, Canada joined the U.S. and the U.K. in delivering a stark warning over Russian interference in Moldova, which neighbours Ukraine.

The three countries said in a statement that Russian actors are "carrying out a plot to influence outcomes" of the country's upcoming presidential election this fall.

"They intend to incite protests in Moldova should a pro-Russia candidate not win," the statement said.

"They seek to foment negative public perceptions of Western governments, Moldova's incumbent leadership and Moldova's potential for EU integration, while degrading public confidence in Moldova's ability to secure itself and maintain rule of law"

The statement said the three countries have full confidence in Moldova's ability to manage the threats, and they are taking measures to support the efforts.

"By revealing the Kremlin’s plot, we are making it clear to Moscow that we stand for free and fair elections and will not tolerate its attempts to meddle and undermine democratic processes," it said.

Against that backdrop, U.S. President Joe Biden and Zelenskyy signed a new agreement on the sidelines of the summit Thursday designed to bolster Ukraine's defences in the long term.

Canada has also announced sanctions against 11 people and 16 entities connected to Russia's "military-industrial complex," the Prime Minister's Office said in a news release. That includes entities involved in circumventing sanctions on Russian oil.

Trudeau held meetings with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron on the first day of the summit.

Other issues on the agenda are the Israel-Hamas war, China's industrial policy and partnership with Africa.

After a recent European parliamentary election result that shored up support for far-right political parties, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni seemed to kick off the summit by flexing her muscles as one of the most stable leaders in the group.

Italian negotiators successfully removed the word "abortion" from a draft of a G7 communique that leaders expect to release during the summit, though it still reaffirms commitments to abortion rights agreed to last year, the ANSA news agency reported.

Asked about the change, Macron told an Italian reporter on the sidelines of the summit: "I regret this."

He added that France includes a women's right to abortion in its constitution, and the country defends "this vision of equality between women and men."

Termorshuizen would not comment on whether abortion will be mentioned in the final communique.

"You'll see in the communique tomorrow that there is very strong language on gender equality on LGBTQ issues," she said.

On Friday, Pope Francis will become the first pope to address a G7 summit.

He is expected to speak about the promises and perils of artificial intelligence, and also to renew his appeal for a peaceful end to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2024.

— With files from The Associated Press.

Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press

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