MÜNSTER, Germany — Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, and other top diplomats from the Group of 7 nations are scheduled to meet on Thursday to address global crises, with a particular focus on the allied effort to support Ukraine against the invading Russian military.
In meetings over two days in Münster, Germany, the foreign ministers are expected to discuss food and energy issues arising from the war, including potential gas shortages in Europe over the coming winter and the partial embargo of Russian oil that Europe plans to enact in early December, which could further raise oil prices on the global market.
The war has not been going well for Russia, with territorial losses in Ukraine’s south and east. Moscow has turned to long-range weapons to destroy Ukraine’s power plants, lines, substations and other parts of the grid, apparently aiming to cut off power and water to Ukrainians and erode their will to fight.
Russia has also stepped up its leverage of its gas exports against Ukraine’s supporters, including a newly announced cut in deliveries to Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbor, that prompted a Russian-backed breakaway republic there, Transnistria, to cut off deliveries of the electricity it produces from Russian gas to the rest of the country.
The Group of 7 diplomats gathering in Germany also plan to discuss a variety of other topics. One is Iran’s role in helping Russia. The Iranian military has supplied Russian forces with drones to use against Ukraine. Another focus will be the violent response by security forces in Iran to peaceful protests there. There are also scheduled meetings on China’s presence in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region, stability in Central Asia and issues across Africa.
The United States and its European and Asian allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia. But they have been reluctant to completely cut off the main lifeline of Russia’s economy, oil and gas exports because of the potential effect on world markets. American and European officials fear broad sanctions on Russian energy would lead to a worldwide surge in prices.
To avert that, the officials are trying to carry out a complex maneuver: putting in place an oil price cap among at least the Group of 7 nations. That would mean the countries continue to buy Russian oil but at a lower price that they agree to set, essentially operating as a buyer’s cartel.
At a meeting last month in Vienna of OPEC Plus — the 13 OPEC members plus 10 other oil-producing nations — Russian officials threatened to withhold oil from any country abiding by the price cap. U.S. officials worry that millions of barrels of Russian oil could come off the market, inflating prices. They say Saudi Arabia could choose to help the anti-Russia coalition by increasing oil production, but the Saudis have gone in the opposite direction, joining Russia in leading other OPEC Plus nations in announcing a steep production cut at the October meeting.
Saudi officials are opposed to a price cap, saying that would give buyers too much power. However, some officials in Riyadh have indicated that Saudi companies might increase production if the global oil supply drops.
Earlier this fall, finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations signaled that their countries were ready to work together on a price cap mechanism. And more recently, European officials stressed their commitment, paving the way for discussions in Münster and at a Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia, later this month.
“I’m sure our other G7 partners, not only the Europeans, are going to be anxious to continue that discussion,” Howard Solomon, the U.S. State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasia, told reporters in a telephone briefing on Tuesday. The Group of 7 nations are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as the European Union.
Mr. Solomon added that the Group of 7 officials would also discuss economic aid for Ukraine, including “humanitarian assistance, support for refugees, and helping Ukraine in terms of reconstruction.”