G7 celebrates VE Day by pushing for Russian oil ban

Another Ukrainian rocker, BoomBox frontman Andriy Khlyvnyuk, inspired Pink Floyd to perform and record a new song for the first time in over 20 years. Classic rockers and Khlyvnyuk recorded Hey hey get upsung in Ukrainian, which they say symbolizes the nation’s resistance.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US First Lady Jill Biden also made surprise visits to Ukraine on Sunday (European time).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walking with Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn, right, in Irpin, Ukraine, Sunday, May 8, 2022.Credit:PA

Trudeau visited the northern town of Irpin, which had been badly damaged by Russia’s attempt to take the capital of kyiv at the start of the war. On Sunday, the mayor posted images of Trudeau on social media, saying the Canadian leader was shocked by the damage he had seen in civilian homes.

Biden held a Mother’s Day gathering in western Ukraine with First Lady Olena Zelenska. The first lady of the United States has traveled under the cloak of secrecy, becoming the last high-profile American to enter Ukraine during its 10-week war with Russia.

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” Biden told Zelenska. “I thought it was important to show the people of Ukraine that this war must end and that this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”

First Lady Jill Biden (left) greets Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, outside School 6, a public school that housed displaced students in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, Sunday, May 8, 2022.

First Lady Jill Biden (left) greets Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, outside School 6, a public school that housed displaced students in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, Sunday, May 8, 2022.Credit:PA

Oil pledge

Leaders of the Group of Seven’s developed democracies pledged Sunday to phase out or ban the import of Russian oil when they met with President Zelensky for online discussions.

The meeting was a show of unity for Ukraine on VE Day, which marks the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II in 1945.

The cut in Russian oil supplies “will hit the main artery of [President Vladimir] Putin’s economy and deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war,” said the G7 nations, which include the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and Japan, in a press release.

“We will ensure that we do this in a timely and orderly manner, and in a way that gives the world time to secure alternative supplies.”

Looking back on World War II, the leaders stressed unity in their resolve that Putin must not win.

“We owe it to the memory of all who fought for freedom in World War II to continue to fight for it today, for the people of Ukraine, Europe and the global community,” they said.

A destroyed house in Malaya Rohan, a village taken over by Ukrainian forces on the outskirts of Kharkiv.

A destroyed house in Malaya Rohan, a village taken over by Ukrainian forces on the outskirts of Kharkiv.Credit:PA

The meeting came as news broke that as many as 60 people were believed to have been killed after a bomb hit a village school in eastern Ukraine as Russian forces continued to shell the last stronghold of the Ukrainian resistance in the ruined port of Mariupol, to the southeast.

Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said the Bilohorivka school, where around 90 people had taken refuge, was hit by a Russian bomb on Saturday, setting it on fire.

“Thirty people were evacuated from the rubble, seven of whom were injured. Sixty people were believed to be dead,” Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding that two bodies had been recovered.

In Mariupol, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment, holed up in the sprawling Azovstal steelworks, pleaded with the international community to help evacuate wounded soldiers.

A man who fled a small village near Polohy rests upon his arrival at a reception center for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia.

A man who fled a small village near Polohy rests upon his arrival at a reception center for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia.Credit:PA

“We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers,” Captain Sviatoslav Palamar told an online press conference.

As the fighting raged, G7 leaders pledged to deepen Russia’s economic isolation.

The United States also announced new sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. These include cutting Western advertising from Russia’s three largest television channels, banning US accounting and consulting firms from providing services to any Russians, and imposing additional restrictions on Russia’s industrial sector.

The White House announced the new sanctions ahead of VE Day on May 9, when Russia traditionally celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany with huge military parades.

Putin is expected to speak on Monday about what he calls his special military operation in Ukraine and address troops in Red Square.

American and European allies sought to deliver a counter-message that Putin is further isolating Russia from the rest of the world and hurting Russia’s economy immensely.

Loading

Ahead of the call, British officials said Britain would provide an additional £1.3 billion ($2.3 billion) in military support to Ukraine to help the country defend against Russian forces .

The funding, which comes from UK government reserves, includes £300m worth of military hardware already pledged by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a televised address that Sunday was “a May 8 like no other”.

He said Germany had worked hard to come to terms with its actions during World War II, reconciling with Russia and Ukraine and committing to the concept of “never again”.

However, Russia’s “barbaric” invasion of Ukraine in February brought war back to Europe, Scholz said, a prospect that once seemed unthinkable.

“Freedom and security will prevail – just as freedom and security triumphed over lack of freedom, violence and dictatorship 77 years ago,” Scholz said.

Reuters, AP, Bloomberg

Get a grade directly from our foreigner correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.

Mary I. Bruner