Rishi Sunak announces £242 million aid package for Ukraine at G7 summit

In what could be his final G7 meeting as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak is in Italy as world leaders agree a deal for billions of extra funding for Ukraine. ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports from Puglia, Italy

Rishi Sunak has announced up to £242 million in bilateral assistance to Ukraine at the G7 summit in Italy.

The package is to be used for immediate humanitarian, energy and stabilisation needs in Ukraine and to lay the foundations for longer term economic and social recovery and reconstruction, the prime minister said.

The £242 million was allocated before Mr Sunak called a General Election for Thursday, July 4.

The UK and G7 leaders, who are currently meeting in Puglia, agree Moscow must pay for the damage it is causing Ukraine and will therefore explore how to use immobilised Russian assets - $285 billion (£222 billion) worth of which are held in G7 jurisdictions - to support Ukraine.

Mr Sunak said: "The UK will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in its fight for freedom.

"Today we are once more ramping up economic pressure through sanctions to bear down on Russia's ability to fund its war machine.

"Putin must lose, and cutting off his ability to fund a prolonged conflict is absolutely vital."

Speaking to broadcasters after the announcement, Mr Sunak ducked suggestions that the current G7 summit might be his last as prime minister, if polling which widely suggests a Labour win at the General Election is to be believed.

Rishi Sunak said the latest support package will make an 'enormous difference' to Ukraine

Asked if he had done enough while in office to secure a legacy on the world stage, the prime minister said: "We've had a very productive set of meetings today, particularly on Ukraine, where I've been discussing with my colleagues a game changing package of support for Ukraine that would be funded by the profits on seized Russian assets.

"Now, this is something that I and the UK have personally championed and led on for a while now, so it's very positive to see it close to the finish line."

The UK, alongside G7 allies, has additionally announced 50 new sanctions designations and specifications against Russia - including ships in Russian President Vladimir Putin's shadow fleet.

Sanctions have also been imposed against Russian financial institutions and companies which help to supply Russia's military capabilities.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (second right) alongside G7 leaders at a summit in Puglia, Italy. Credit: AP

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said the penalties are "starving Putin of the revenue he desperately needs to fund his war chest".

He added: "We will continue to work alongside our partners to increase economic pressure and demonstrate that the UK and the G7 will stand by Ukraine in this fight."

The summit in Italy comes as the prime minister continues to face pressure at home over his decision to leave D-Day commemorations in France - with the backlash dominating his election campaign last week.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron took Mr Sunak's place at a ceremony with leaders, including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, who the prime minister is meeting with at the G7 summit.

Subscribe free to our Election Briefing newsletter here for exclusive and original campaign coverage from ITV News. Direct to your inbox at 5pm every weekday

During the Puglia summit, Mr Sunak will attend sessions on the Middle East, economic security and China, as well as a credible G7 and UK offer to "the global majority".

The prime minister will also press other leaders to recognise migration challenges "across the route" and to take collective action.

He touted his flagship Rwanda scheme - which he says will go ahead with deportations starting in July if his party is re-elected - during a recent trip to Austria.

Fifteen EU countries, including Austria, signed a letter last month calling on the European Commission to tighten migration policy and to look at third country schemes.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every day in the run-up to the election Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…