UK calls for unity at G7 meeting in protest of Russia's "malign behavior".

LIVERPOOL (AP) -- High-ranking diplomats from the Group of Seven industrialized countries met in Liverpool Saturday to discuss Russia's recent buildup of troops close to Ukraine's border. Also, Britain's criticism of Moscow's "malign behaviour" around the globe.

Esat Zorkun
Esat Zorkun
12 December 2021 Sunday 11:35
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UK calls for unity at G7 meeting in protest of Russia's "malign behavior".

The U.K. called on "a show of unity to combat global aggressors" when it received Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, and other G-7 foreign minsters during the Russia-Ukraine crisis as well as tensions with China (Iran) and Iran.

As Liz Truss, British Foreign Secretary, spoke out to open the meeting of foreign ministers representing the U.K. and the U.S., Canada, France Germany, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Canada. "We must unite to resist aggressors seeking to limit freedom and democracy.

The U.S. and NATO allies fear that Russian troops and weapons may move to the border with Ukraine. If that happens, they will impose severe sanctions on Russia's economy.

Moscow denies any plans to attack Ukraine, and Kyiv is accused of having its own aggressive designs.

According to a senior U.S. official, Saturday's talks saw G-7 ministers united in their "extreme concern” about the Russia-Ukraine border developments. According to the official, the G-7 would respond with "massive consequences" and "severe costs" to the greedy ministers over a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Although the official did not give any details on these consequences, he said that they would be implemented quickly if Russia didn't heed its warnings not to back down.

The U.S. and its allies are avoiding any talk of a military intervention to protect Ukraine. Instead, efforts focus on harsh sanctions that would affect the Russian economy, not just individuals.

On Saturday, U.S. reporters asked President Joe Biden about the possibility that combat troops could be sent to Ukraine. He said that this idea had never been considered. He asked, "Are you willing to send American troops into conflict and go into Ukraine to battle Russians on the field?"

Biden stated that he had made it clear to Putin about the economic consequences of an invasion. Devastating."

Josep Borrell from the European Union's foreign affairs chief is also present at the conference. He stated that the ministers are determined to make Russia realize that any attack on Ukraine will have a high price.

It has been difficult to get a united response from the G-7, which is a group of countries that have different interests. Germany is planning to get gas from Russia via the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This pipeline bypasses Ukraine. Britain, which does not depend on Russian gas, tends to take a more aggressive line on the pipeline, but is faced with tough questions about London’s financial district, and its property market, which are both hubs of Russian money.

Truss stated that she would work with other countries to "ensure that free democratic nations can have an alternative to Russian gaz supplies." Truss met with Annalena Baerbock (German foreign minister), a Green politician who had previously opposed Nord Stream 2.

The pace of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict is increasing, along with efforts to reach an agreement on harsh sanctions in case Russia invades. According to the State Department, Karen Donfried (the top American diplomat for Europe), will be visiting both Kyiv & Moscow next week to "reaffirm the United States' commitment towards Ukraine's sovereignty and independence" and seek a solution. Donfried will travel to Brussels later in the day to meet NATO and European Union allies.

The weekend meeting at Liverpool's dockside Museum of Liverpool was also focused on China's muscle-flexing and the ailing Iran nuke deal.

As negotiators meet in Vienna, the gathering takes place to discuss next steps and to try to revive an international agreement to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions. Blinken met with British, French, and German diplomats in Liverpool, to discuss next steps regarding Iran. Robert Malley, the special envoy for Iran under the Biden administration, also stopped by the city while he was on his way from Vienna.

Truss said this week that Iran's Vienna talks were "the last chance" to sign up to the agreement. The deal was intended to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for loosening economic sanctions.

Truss invited ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASAN) to Liverpool's meeting. However, many of them were joining from far away due to the pandemic. Journalists and delegates face daily virus testing and mask mandates at this conference. Britain is recording more cases of the omicron variant of the virus, which scientists predict will be the dominant strain in the U.K. within the next week.

Britain wants to strengthen its relationship with Asian countries as part of the "Indo Pacific tilt", following the U.K.'s exit from the 27-nation European Union last January. This is both to increase trade and counter China's dominance.

Truss stated to her G-7 counterparts she believed democracies must fight "economic coercion", and win the "battle of technology" -- both referring to Beijing's increasing influence across the globe. As an alternative to China's money, the G-7 launched "Build Back Better World", which offers funding to developing countries for large infrastructure projects.

However, a united stance toward China remains difficult to achieve, with the U.S., Britain, and other G-7 members being more hawkish than others.

For its final meeting as G-7 president, the U.K. chose a location rich in British culture and history. Liverpool's docklands were once a symbol for Britain's economic power and global reach. However, the river Mersey now represents 21st-century urban renewal.

The G-7 ministers' dinner was held at the Beatles Story Museum, a museum that is dedicated to the city’s most prominent sons. Before enjoying a Fab Four cover band, delegates were served a local meal at a replica of Liverpool's Cavern Club.

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