The economic powers of the Group of Seven called on Russia on Sunday to âde-escalateâ its military build-up near the Ukrainian border, warning that an invasion would have âmassive consequencesâ and inflict severe economic pain on Moscow.
Foreign Ministers of the United States, Great Britain and the rest of the G-7, along with the Foreign Minister of the European Union, issued a joint statement declaring that they were âin our condemnation of Russia’s military build-up and aggressive rhetoric against Ukraine united “.
The G-7 called on Russia to âde-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels and comply with its international obligations regarding the transparency of military activitiesâ and praised Ukraine’s âreluctanceâ.
âAny use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law. Russia should have no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and high costs, âthe statement said.
Russia’s arms and troop transport to the border region dominated the weekend talks among foreign ministers from the wealthy G-7 democracies in Liverpool, England.
The US and its allies fear that armament could be a precursor to an invasion and have vowed to impose heavy sanctions on Russia’s economy if it does.
Moscow denies attacking Ukraine and accuses Kiev of allegedly aggressive intentions of its own.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who hosted the conference, said the G-7 is sending “a strong signal to our adversaries and allies”.
The statement promised a “common and comprehensive response” but did not give any details. Truss said the G-7 is “considering all options” when it comes to economic sanctions. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on NBC’s Meet the Press that “we are ready to take the steps we have failed in the past” if Russia does not step down.
The US and its allies have downplayed talk of a military response to defend Ukraine, with efforts focused on harsh sanctions that would hit the Russian economy, not just individuals.
In the US, reporters asked President Joe Biden on Saturday about the possibility of sending combat troops to Ukraine, and he said the idea was never considered. “Are you ready to send American troops to war and go to Ukraine to fight Russians on the battlefield?” He said.
Biden, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on a video call last week, said he had made it clear that if invaded, “the economic impact on his economy will be devastating.” Destructive.”
Truss said Biden had made it clear to Putin that the US stance âhas the support of the G-7 as a whole. And that should worry Vladimir Putin very much. “
China’s muscle game in the Indo-Pacific and the ailing nuclear deal with Iran were also on the agenda of the meeting of top diplomats from Great Britain, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan in the Port Museum in Liverpool.
It has often proven difficult to get a unified response to global crises from the G-7, a group of countries with different interests.
Germany plans to get gas from Russia soon via the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which bypasses Ukraine – although Blinken said it would be hard to imagine the pipeline going into operation âif Russia renews its aggression against Ukraine and takes renewed action â.
“I think President Putin needs to take that into account when thinking about what to do next,” he said.
Great Britain, which is not dependent on Russian gas, has also criticized the pipeline – but is faced with tricky questions about London’s financial district and the real estate market, both hubs for Russian money.
UK banking and finance authorities have long been criticized for allegedly turning a blind eye to ill-gotten profits.
Truss insisted that the UK has “very strict anti-corruption and anti-money laundering rules” but also suggested that Russian money and gas come at a high price.
“We cannot make short-term economic gain at the expense of our long-term freedom and democracy,” she said.
The G-7 countries are also increasingly concerned about China’s growing economic and technological dominance, particularly in developing countries. The G-7 has launched a âBuild Back Better Worldâ initiative to offer developing countries funding for large infrastructure projects as an alternative to money from China, which the West believes are often conditional.
Truss, who also invited ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to the meeting in Liverpool, said the G-7 was “concerned about China’s coercive economic policies”.
“We have set a positive agenda to make sure countries have alternative sources of investment, alternative sources of trade,” she said. “And that we make sure that we adhere to the rules-based international system for trading – and make sure that others follow it.”
However, a unified stance on China continues to prove elusive as the US and UK are generally more restrictive than other G-7 members.
AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this story.
Jill Lawless, The Associated Press