Russia will face “massive consequences and severe cost” if it pursues further military aggression against Ukraine, foreign ministers from the G7 group of democratic powers warned Sunday.
The G7 countries are united in their “condemnation of Russia’s military build-up and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine,” ministers said in a statement following two days of talks in the northern English city of Liverpool.
“We call on Russia to de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels, and abide by its international commitments on transparency of military activities,” reads the statement, on behalf of ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. “Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response.”
The text does not clarify what such consequences could entail, but Western leaders have spoken about economic sanctions on Russia and increased defense assistance to Ukraine, rather than a direct military response.
The U.S. has warned Russia is amassing troops close to its border with Ukraine in preparation for a potential multi-front offensive involving up to 175,000 troops. Moscow denies it’s planning to invade.
The G7 foreign ministers’ statement indirectly rejected Russian demands that Ukraine should not be allowed to join NATO, stressing that the country had the right to decide on its future alignment.
“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,” the text says while stressing that “we commend Ukraine’s posture of restraint.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week called for “reliable, legally fixed guarantees” that NATO would not expand eastward or deploy offensive strike weapons close to Russia.