UK seeks unity at G-7 meeting on Russia’s ‘malicious behavior’


High-level diplomats from the Group of Seven industrialized countries gathered along the River Mersey in Liverpool with host Britain, seeking “a display of unity against global aggressors” amid crisis regarding Russia’s intentions towards Ukraine.

The UK is seeking an elusive club of wealthy nations consensus in response to what it calls Russia’s “malicious behavior” and tensions with China and Iran.

As a Salvation Army group played Christmas carols, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss greeted US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and other G-7 counterparts with a bang. fist in the rotunda of the Modernist Museum of Liverpool at the start of the two-day talks. .

“We must defend ourselves against the growing threats from hostile actors,” said Truss, opening the meeting of foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. “And we must unite firmly to stand up to the aggressors who seek to limit the limits of freedom and democracy. “

Truss and Blinken met on Friday evening and “expressed deep concern over the build-up of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine,” the British government said. The two politicians said that “any Russian incursion would be a strategic error with serious consequences.”

The United States and its NATO allies fear the movement of Russian troops and weapons to the border region is a prelude to an invasion and have said they will impose heavy sanctions on the Russian economy if it does. was happening.

Moscow denies planning to attack Ukraine and accuses Kiev of its own aggressive designs.

Truss warned ahead of the meeting that “free democratic nations” must wean themselves off Russian gas and money to preserve their independence.

She said she wanted to work with other countries “to ensure that free democratic nations are able to have an alternative to Russian gas supplies,” a reference to the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline that has been built. to transport gas from Russia to Germany.

Truss met on the sidelines of the rally with the new German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, a politician from the Greens ecologists who had previously opposed Nord Stream 2.

Great Britain, little dependent on Russian gas, criticizes the pipeline. But London’s financial district and real estate market are major hubs for Russian money, and UK authorities have long been accused of turning a blind eye to the flow of ill-gotten funds from around the world.

Truss insisted Britain is willing to consider further economic measures to protect its “core values”.

“There have been decisions made by the free world (…) in the short term to get cheap energy or cheap finance, and that comes at a long term cost to freedom and democracy,” a- she declared. “And we can’t make that mistake again.”

The weekend meeting is the last major event of Britain’s one-year G-7 presidency. Diplomats in Liverpool also plan to discuss lagging efforts to vaccinate the world against COVID-19, tensions in the Western Balkans, Afghanistan and North Korea, and China‘s muscle contraction in the Indo region. peaceful.

The rally comes as negotiators gather in Vienna to try to rekindle a troubled international deal over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Blinken met with German, French and British diplomats in Liverpool to discuss next steps regarding Iran, and the Biden administration’s special envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, also stopped in the city on the Vienna path.

Truss warned this week that the Vienna talks are “Iran’s last chance to re-sign” the deal, which aimed to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for easing economic sanctions. It faltered after President Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 and Iran began ramping up its uranium enrichment.

Truss also invited ministers from Assn. from Southeast Asian nations at the Liverpool meeting, although many were participating remotely due to the pandemic. Delegates and journalists face virus tests and mask warrants daily at the conference, as Britain registers more cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Britain wants to work more closely with Asian countries as part of an ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ after the UK left the European Union last year, both to boost UK trade and to counterbalance Chinese domination.

Truss told his G-7 counterparts that democracies must fight “economic coercion” and “win the battle of technology” – both referred to Beijing’s growing influence around the world. The G-7 has launched a “Build a Better World” initiative to provide developing countries with finance for large infrastructure projects as an alternative to money from China which the West says often comes with strings attached. .

The UK has chosen a setting steeped in British history and culture for the G-7 event. The Liverpool docks, once a symbol of Britain’s global reach and economic might, have come to represent the country’s post-industrial decline.

Today the area on the River Mersey is an example of 21st century urban renewal as a leisure and cultural district, with a museum dedicated to the city’s most famous sons, the Beatles.

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