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Biden attends the G7

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Leaders of the world's largest economies are meeting in Italy today for the G7 summit. President Biden says they've agreed on a new way to loan money to Ukraine. They'll use interest from Russian financial assets that were frozen in Western banks when Russia launched its war in Ukraine.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: This week, the G7 signed a plan to finalize and unlock $50 billion from the proceeds of those frozen assets to put that money to work for Ukraine, another reminder that to Putin, we're not backing down.

PFEIFFER: NPR White House correspondent Deepa Shivaram is in Fasano, Italy, and has the details. Hi, Deepa.

DEEPA SHIVARAM, BYLINE: Hi there.

PFEIFFER: Before we go into what the G7 said about Ukraine today, I understand something personal came up for the president. He was asked about the conviction of his son, Hunter, on gun charges. What did President Biden say?

SHIVARAM: Yeah. I mean, this is really the first time we're hearing Biden, you know, talk about this extensively. He traveled to Italy. And actually, he's here with two of Hunter Biden's daughters. But he came here right after a jury in Delaware convicted his son, Hunter Biden, on gun charges. And he was asked whether his son got a fair trial. This is what Biden said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: I'm extremely proud of my son, Hunter. He has overcome an addiction. He's one of the greatest, most decent men I know. And I am satisfied - that I'm not going to do anything. I said I abide by the jury decision, and I will do that, and I will not pardon him.

SHIVARAM: He said, I will not pardon him. That's something he's said before. But as he left the stage today, reporters asked him whether he would commute the sentence for his son once it's handed down in the coming months, and off mic, Biden said, no, he would not commute it.

PFEIFFER: He said this at a news conference, but the reason for the news conference was that he wanted to explain that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and him had signed a security agreement. What is in that agreement?

SHIVARAM: Yeah, that's correct. So the two leaders met and signed an agreement that the U.S. would provide support for Ukraine for the next decade, and that's in the form of military support, cybersecurity. The idea is that this agreement is kind of a pathway to eventually get Ukraine into NATO. But this 10-year agreement could be difficult to live up to. It's not as binding as something like a treaty. So if former President Trump were to win the election in November, it's unclear what happens to this agreement. And the agreement also says that the U.S. will seek out more aid for Ukraine through Congress, right? But that's another element here that's sort of shaky because the last round of funding for Ukraine was delayed on the Hill for months.

PFEIFFER: But it sounds like the G7 leaders say they have found a way around that delay.

SHIVARAM: Sort of, yeah. So they've reached a new agreement, these G7 leaders, to get more funding for Ukraine. It's going to be $50 billion in the form of a loan to help with defense and humanitarian aid and with rebuilding after the war ends. But keep in mind, you know, the cost estimates of what Ukraine actually needs here is way higher than $50 billion. But U.S. officials have said that this agreement is basically the best shot at getting Ukraine a boost of money now before several elections take place in Europe and the U.S.

PFEIFFER: And, Deepa, could you briefly explain how using money from interest on frozen Russian assets will work?

SHIVARAM: Yeah. I mean, you mentioned at the beginning, this is interest gained from frozen Russian assets. That money is sitting mostly in banks in Europe. And the interest is adding up to about $3 billion every year.

PFEIFFER: That's NPR's Deepa Shivaram. Thank you.

SHIVARAM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.
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