BERLIN: Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven major powers Saturday agreed to make Russia pay “unprecedented” costs, including by imposing sanctions, if its military invades Ukraine.
In a joint statement, the ministers said they “remain gravely concerned” over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and urged Moscow to de-escalate the tensions including by withdrawing troops as announced recently.
“Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified massing of military forces, the largest deployment on the European continent since the end of the Cold War, is a challenge to global security and the international order,” according to the statement.
“Any further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences, including financial and economic sanctions on a wide array of sectoral and individual targets that would impose severe and unprecedented costs on the Russian economy,” the statement also said.
The ministers urged Russia to “implement the announced reduction of its military activities along Ukraine’s borders.”
“We have seen no evidence of this reduction,” the statement said. “We will judge Russia by its deeds.”
The document was adopted at Saturday’s emergency G7 meeting in Munich, southern Germany, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, which started Friday.
The G7 ministers confirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and underscored their determination to pursue a peaceful diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis.
The officials also agreed to request Russia to accept dialogue on the issue.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who chaired the meeting, stressed that the G7, a forum of the most economically powerful democracies, stands by Ukraine and continues to extend economic assistance to the country.
The G7 countries had issued a joint statement of their finance ministers Monday to warn of sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, the G7 will hold an online conference of their top leaders Thursday.
Participants in Saturday’s meeting included Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba joined as a guest.
At Saturday’s session of the Munich Security Conference, US Vice President Kamala Harris said that the United States, along with its allies and partners, “will impose significant and unprecedented economic costs” on Russia if it invades Ukraine.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will strengthen its defense in its eastern side, Harris said, emphasizing that the United States and other members will defend “every inch of NATO territory.”
In Washington on Friday, US President Joe Biden said he is “convinced” that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a decision to invade Ukraine.
Russia on Saturday test-fired ballistic and other missiles. Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists are blaming each other for alleged shelling.