Muenster, Germany — Senior diplomats from the world’s major industrialized democracies on Thursday sought to broaden their unified positions on Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s growing global economic clout and Iran’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.
Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations began two days of talks in the historic city of Münster, western Germany, to take stock of the war in Ukraine and maintain economic, military and other support of the country more than eight months after the Russian invasion and as winter approaches.
The significance of the venue – the same room in which the Treaty of Westphalia ending Europe’s bloody 30-year war was signed in 1648 – was not lost on attendees, some of whom commented on the relevance of the principles that he devotes in international diplomacy.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to the 374-year-old document during an event with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, saying Russia’s actions in Ukraine are a direct attack on concepts of sovereignty national and territorial integrity that many believe the treaty has established. .
“These are the same principles that are challenged today by Russia,” Blinken said. “If we allow this to be challenged with impunity, then the foundations of the international order will begin to erode and eventually crumble, and none of us can afford that to happen.”
Baerbock opened the G-7 meeting in Münster’s town hall by declaring that the values expressed in 1648 were the same as those under threat today: “peace and the rule of law”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions are “pushing the world’s poorest people even further into despair, pushing global food security to the brink and driving up energy prices”, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. “These actions only serve to demonstrate Putin’s true intentions and further unite the international community against his ruthless plans.”
“We will not accept that the Russian president succeeds in his strategy of … breaking up Ukraine,” Baerbock said.
The Münster meeting comes nearly a year after the same G-7 countries – the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US – banded together to warn Russia of “massive consequences” if it goes ahead with plans to invade Ukraine.
Putin has denied having such plans, and some nations saw repeated warnings from the West about a Russian troop build-up near Ukraine as exaggerated at the time.
Since issuing the initial warning to Moscow – two months before the Russian invasion was launched in late February – the G-7 has largely stuck to its vow to punish Russia, although the sanctions have done little to deter the Kremlin faced with soaring energy prices.
Instead, Russia stepped up attacks on civilians and infrastructure, sent in more troops, illegally annexed four regions of Ukraine, and showed no interest in a diplomatic solution. A senior US official traveling with Blinken said Putin had “doubled” and, in some cases, “tripled” his stance.
Although a potential global food crisis was averted on Wednesday when Russia agreed to join a wartime deal that allowed Ukrainian grain exports to world markets, other emergencies loom.
These include the war’s impact on energy supplies, Russia’s baseless claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a radioactive ‘dirty bomb’ and suggestions that Moscow may respond with weapons nuclear. The UN nuclear watchdog reported on Thursday that site inspections in Ukraine found no evidence to support Russia’s claim that Ukraine was planning to detonate a “dirty bomb”. “radioactive.
Meanwhile, the European Union is considering moving forward with price caps on Russian energy imports aimed at further stifling Russian revenue.
G-7 ministers were also expected to discuss other issues, including joint approaches by China, which has sided with Russia on Ukraine while seeking to boost investment in critical and sensitive infrastructure in West, and Iran, which in addition to carrying out a brutal crackdown on protesters is accused of supplying Russia with armed drones and possibly other weapons for use in Ukraine.
Baerbock, the host, said she wanted the group to focus in particular on supporting women’s rights in Iran, where protests erupted following the death of a woman accused of breaking compulsory wear of the scarf.
On China, U.S. officials said the G-7 would seek to further harmonize its policies on Chinese investment in their countries as well as warn against antagonistic moves Beijing might take against Taiwan.
Beijing “is not only a partner on international issues but also a competitor and, much more strongly, a rival, given its understanding of the international order,” Baerbock said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is visiting Beijing this week, becoming the first European leader to make the trip since the start of the war in Ukraine. Chinese investment in a major port project in Germany has raised fears in Washington and other capitals that China could take control of critical infrastructure in the heart of an allied country.
U.S. officials said they were pleased the Port of Hamburg contract had been amended to reduce China’s stake to a minority position, but said it was important that all nations carefully consider proposed Chinese investments and the potential security threats they could bring.
Scholz pledged to use his trip to advocate for Chinese moderation and help to calm situations with Ukraine and Taiwan.
The G-7 has resisted major changes since foreign ministers issued their harsh pre-war ultimatum to the Kremlin last December. Britain is in its third prime minister, there is a new far-right government in Italy, relations between Germany and France have frayed and control of the US Congress may be about to change with the midterm elections next week.
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