Truss and Blinken warn of ‘serious consequences’ if Russia invades Ukraine at G7 summit

Britain and US said any Russian incursion into Ukraine 'would be a strategic mistake'

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British foreign minister Liz Truss and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on the margins of the G7 summit where they expressed deep concern about the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine's border, the UK foreign office said.

Any incursion by Russia "would be a strategic mistake for which there would be serious consequences," it said.

On Saturday, a representative for Mr Blinken had reaffirmed the importance of co-operation between Britain and the US to deter Moscow from further aggression towards Ukraine.

“Mr Blinken met with Ms Truss on the margins of the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting in Liverpool,” his spokesman Ned Price said.

“Secretary Blinken and Ms Truss emphasised the importance of continued US-UK co-ordination to deter Russia from further aggression against Ukraine,” he added.

The UK and the US are using the opportunity to form a unified approach to convince Iran to accept a revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Ms Truss and Mr Blinken also "discussed Iran’s nuclear programme as well as ways to advance the global Covid-19 response, health security and our strong bilateral relationship,” Mr Price said.

“The secretary noted the scale and urgency of the shared challenges, underscoring the need to have a Senate-confirmed ambassador in place.”

Negotiators are meeting in Vienna to try to revive the ailing international deal to curb Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons.

Talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action resumed in Austria’s capital on Thursday.

Ms Truss said last week that the Vienna talks were “the last chance for Iran to sign up” again to the deal, which was meant to rein in Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for loosened economic sanctions.

It faltered after president Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in 2018 and Iran increased its uranium enrichment.

In a speech at the Chatham House think tank in London, Ms Truss urged Tehran to rejoin the deal “because we are determined to work with our allies to prevent Iran securing nuclear weapons”.

Foreign ministers meet to defuse Russia tension

Foreign ministers from the G7 nations sought to ease tension with Moscow on Saturday as fears mounted over Russia’s massing of troops along its border with Ukraine.

Diplomats met in Liverpool, England, for what the UK called “a show of unity against global aggressors”.

Also high on the agenda are Covid-19 vaccination, climate change and tension in Afghanistan, Bosnia and North Korea.

Mr Blinken also spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. On Saturday, the pair agreed on the need to fortify their countries’ alliance amid a tougher regional security environment, a Japanese government official said.

Before the meeting, Ms Truss said “free, democratic nations” must wean themselves off Russian gas and money to preserve their independence.

She said the meeting would be “a show of unity between like-minded major economies that we are going to absolutely be strong in our stance against aggression, against aggression with respect to Ukraine”, and that a military move on the country would be “a strategic mistake” with “severe consequences” for Moscow.

The US and its Nato allies are concerned that the movement of Russian troops and weapons to the border region may be a prelude to invasion and have said they would inflict heavy sanctions on Russia’s economy if that were to happen.

Moscow denies planning to attack Ukraine and has accused Kyiv of having aggressive designs of its own.

“This weekend, the world’s most influential democracies will take a stand against aggressors who seek to undermine liberty and send a clear message that we are a united front,” Ms Truss said.

“I want G7 countries to deepen ties in areas like trade, investment, technology and security so we can defend and advance freedom and democracy across the world. I will be pushing that point over the next few days.”

The G7 bloc comprises the UK, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

On Saturday, Ms Truss said she wanted to work with other countries “to make sure that free democratic nations are able to have an alternative to Russian gas supplies”, a reference to the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was built to carry gas from Russia to Germany.

The Liverpool meeting is the first international gathering for Germany’s new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock. A politician from the environmentalist Greens, Ms Baerbock had previously opposed the pipeline project. She has also called for “dialogue and toughness” towards China and a similar approach to Russia.

“There have been decisions made by the free world ... in the short term to obtain cheap energy or cheap financing, and that has a long-term cost for freedom and democracy,” she said.

“And we can’t make that mistake again.”

Ms Truss also met French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during the G7 summit.

“They agreed that the UK and France must make common cause in promoting freedom and democracy globally and challenging aggressors like Russia,” said a Foreign Office spokesperson.

“The foreign secretary stressed the need for a practical, pragmatic approach to bilateral issues like migration, fishing rights and trade.”

“They discussed cooperation in the Sahel and agreed on the importance of deepening economic, security and development ties with allies,” the spokesperson added.

During the meeting, the ministers also discussed working together to boost economic growth in low and middle income countries.

Ms Truss has invited ministers from the Association of South-East Asian Nations to the meeting in Liverpool, though many will join remotely because of the pandemic.

Britain is keen to work more closely with Asian nations as part of its “Indo-Pacific tilt” to boost trade post-Brexit and as a counterweight to China’s dominance.

The two-day summit is the last major event during Britain’s year-long G7 presidency. Germany is set to take over the rotating stewardship in January.

G7 leaders enjoy evening entertainment in Liverpool, England

On Saturday night, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will host G7 foreign ministers at a working dinner at The Beatles Story Museum, the world’s largest permanent exhibition devoted to telling the story of The Beatles.

Before dinner the guests will be taken on a short tour of key exhibits in the museum, which include George Harrison’s first guitar, John Lennon’s last piano and the demo record that the Beatles were signed from.

There will be music from a Beatles tribute band.

Chef Patron of The Art School, Paul Askew will cook for guests with a menu celebrating ingredients sourced from across the city region’s independent farmers, suppliers and artisans, including Southport potted shrimp and seasonal produce.

Their dinner will take place in a recreation of the famous Cavern Club, the Liverpool venue where The Beatles played their early gigs.

At the dinner Ms Truss will discuss her vision for a global Network of Liberty – based on the UK building closer economic, tech and security relationships with allies that draw more countries into the orbit of free-market democracies.

Updated: December 12, 2021, 5:59 AM
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