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Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations on Sunday warned Russia to de-escalate its activities around Ukraine or face “massive consequences.”
In a joint statement, the ministers said they were “united in our condemnation of Russia’s military build-up and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine.”
“We call on Russia to de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels, and abide by its international commitments on transparency of military activities,” the ministers said in the statement, which followed meetings in Liverpool, England, hosted by U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
With increasing numbers of troops and military equipment deployed near Ukraine’s border, the U.S. warned for weeks that Russian President Vladimir Putin has drawn up plans for an invasion that could take place in early 2022. Putin has denied any intention to invade.
The U.S. has told Russia’s leader that his country will face massive economic repercussions if he moves against Ukraine, though Japan is likely to insist that Sunday’s G-7 statement remains relatively cautious, the people said.
While the U.S. administration hasn’t publicly laid out the potential costs to Russia, they could be implemented quickly if necessary, according to a U.S. State Department official, who discussed the closed-door talks on condition of anonymity.
Putin Told Biden in Tuesday’s Call He’s Ready to Meet in Person
Putin and Biden spoke on a two-hour video call last week, in which the Russian said he’d be prepared for an in-person meeting, according to footage shown on the Rossiya-1 TV channel on Sunday.
“In the absence of de-escalation and taking the diplomatic path, seems pretty unlikely,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Russia’s deployment of troops and military equipment on Ukraine’s border have pushed revived fears of war to the top of the G-7’s agenda.
Biden on Saturday warned Russia of “devastating” economic penalties if it attacks Ukraine and said more U.S. and NATO troops would be sent to defend allies. Separately, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke with her German counterpart on Friday to discuss steps that could “impose severe costs on Russia’s economy” if needed.
The U.S. official expressed confidence that a broad group of countries, including other G-7 nations, would join in imposing costs if Russia attacks Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who met on the margins of the G-7 conference, renewed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and called on Russia to “reduce tensions and return to diplomacy,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Saturday.
G-7 members agree that changing European borders by force would have “enormous political and economic consequences,” Annalena Baerbock, appointed last week as Germany’s first female foreign minister, said in comments broadcast on ARD television.
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