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This is a step beyond the “strongly worded letter” but not much. The group of seven nations that represent the largest economies in the world issued a statement directed to Vladimir Putin and Russia and their designs on Ukraine.
Wrapping up their meeting in Liverpool, the G-7 condemned Russia’s buildup of troops on its border and they called on Moscow to de-escalate.
“Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response,” said the statement. “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the right of any sovereign state to determine its own future.”
A statement released by the Russian Embassy in London on Saturday evening, before the joint G7 document was reported, said that Britain’s frequent use of the phrase “Russian aggression” during the Liverpool meeting was misleading and designed to create a cause for the G7 to rally round.
“Russia has made numerous offers to NATO on ways to decrease tensions. The G7 forum could be an opportunity to discuss them, but so far we hear nothing but aggressive slogans,” the embassy statement said.
Russian “offers” to NATO invariably come down to allowing Russia to do whatever it wants in Ukraine. This is making Ukraine very nervous given that Putin has recently been bemoaning Russia’s loss of empire — an empire that included Ukraine as a prized province.
President Vladimir Putin has lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago as the demise of what he called “historical Russia” and said the economic crisis that followed was so bad he was forced to moonlight as a taxi driver.
Putin’s comments, released by state TV on Sunday, are likely to further fuel speculation about his foreign policy intentions among his critics, who accuse him of planning to recreate the Soviet Union and of contemplating an attack on Ukraine, a notion the Kremlin has dismissed as fear-mongering.
Obviously, the strong words by Biden and the G-7 will not deter Putin one bit.
“We call on Russia to de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels and abide by its international commitments on transparency of military activities,” the G7 said in their statement.
“We reconfirm our support for the efforts of France and Germany in the Normandy Format to achieve full implementation of the Minsk Agreements in order to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.”
The original Minsk agreements stopped the fighting in the Donbas region of Ukraine for a few months in 2015 but otherwise were a total failure. The deal known as Minsk II was finalized but never implemented. But it’s what NATO has to hang its hat on, so the useless deal will have to serve as a template for diplomacy.
Ukraine is a sitting duck. NATO will not go to war to defend them, nor will the United States. All the G-7 nations can do is issue sanctions and threats which will likely hurt G-7 countries more than Russia.
Putin is like the cat playing with its next meal. Whenever he’s ready, he will pounce.