G-7 ministers back Ukraine support, are suspicious of China

Nov 4, 2022, 4:15 AM | Updated: 10:14 am
United States secretary of state Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi of Japan, ri...

United States secretary of state Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi of Japan, right, meet for bilateral talks at the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)

MUENSTER, Germany (AP) — Top diplomats from the world’s major industrialized democracies on Friday rallied support for Ukraine in its resistance to Russia’s invasion, expressing “unwavering commitment” to Ukraine’s defense, and expressed suspicion of China’s increasing assertiveness amid a panoply of global crises.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations, wrapping up two days of talks in the historic western German city of Muenster, released a joint statement asserting common positions on Ukraine, Russia, China and recent developments in Iran and North Korea.

A year after warning Russia about the consequences of invading Ukraine, the G-7 ministers endorsed further punishments for the Kremlin, including setting a price cap for Russian oil exports in the coming weeks. They also pledged additional backing for Kyiv by creating a new way to assist with its reconstruction and to help other countries affected by food and energy shortages exacerbated by the war.

“We reiterate our unwavering commitment to continue providing the financial, humanitarian, defense, political, technical, and legal support Ukraine needs to alleviate the suffering of its people and to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement said.

The ministers accused Russia of “trying to terrorize the civilian population” of Ukraine by targeting critical power, water and other infrastructure and demanded an end to the war.

“We will continue to impose economic costs on Russia and on other countries, individuals or entities providing military support for Moscow’s war of aggression,” it said.

The G-7 is made up of the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

As the meeting ended, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration boosted its military assistance to Ukraine by $400 million, bringing the U.S. contribution to more than $18.2 billion since Russia invaded Feb. 24.

The ministers also called out Iran for allegedly supplying weapons including drones to Russia and for a violent crackdown on antigovernment protesters. They condemned Iran’s “brutal and disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters and children” as well as Tehran’s “continued destabilizing activities in and around the Middle East.”

In addition, the statement further condemned the recent escalation of tensions in Asia caused by North Korean missile launches and delivered a stern warning against a possible new nuclear test. “Any nuclear test or other reckless action must be met with a swift, united, and robust international response,” they said.

One senior U.S. official said the group had demonstrated “remarkable” unity on virtually all major issues despite often-competing domestic interests, particularly in regards to China’s growing economic clout and global ambitions, even as the leader of G-7 host Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, visited Beijing.

The ministers said they sought “constructive cooperation with China, where possible and in our interest” in areas like climate change, clean energy and health but cautioned that Beijing must abide by global regulations, especially as it relates to Taiwan.

“These challenges can only be tackled successfully through cooperation within the rules-based international order,” the G-7 said. “We remind China of the need to uphold the principles of the U.N. Charter on peaceful settlement of disputes and to abstain from threats, coercion, intimidation, or the use of force. We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

Scholz was in Beijing on Friday, the first European and G-7 leader to make the trip since the war in Ukraine began. Chinese investment in a major port in Germany has raised concerns in Washington and other capitals that China might gain a controlling interest in critical infrastructure in the heart of an allied country.

Scholz’s visit has drawn criticism due to China’s tacit support for Russia and for coming after Chinese leader Xi Jinping cemented his authoritarian rule at a Communist Party congress last month. But it reflects the importance of Germany’s trade ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Despite the strong words, it remains unclear how much influence the G-7 actually wields. Its warnings to Russian President Vladimir Putin last December to stay out of Ukraine went unheeded and Xi is forging ahead with plans to reunify Taiwan with the mainland by force, if necessary.

In the meantime, Iran has ignored calls to return to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, started to supply weapons to Russia and launched a major crackdown on domestic dissent. Similarly, North Korea has shunned appeals to return to nuclear negotiations and stepped up missile launches, raising fears of an open conflict.

In Germany, many noted the historic significance of the venue where the G-7 ministers met: the room where the Treaty of Westphalia ending Europe’s bloody 30 Years War was signed in 1648.

Blinken referred to the 374-year-old document, saying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an attack on the concepts of national sovereignty and territorial integrity that many believe the centuries-old treaty established.

And, while chairing a meeting between her G-7 counterparts and the foreign ministers of Kenya and Ghana, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she had raised the bloc’s concerns “over the growing presence of Russian and Russia-affiliated security forces in Mali and elsewhere on the continent and called for accountability for all those responsible for human rights violations.”

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              United States secretary of state Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi of Japan, right, meet for bilateral talks at the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
            
              Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, left, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, shake hands during a meeting as part of  the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Rolf Vennenbernd/DPA via AP, Pool)
            
              People protest against Russia's war in Ukraine outside the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
            
              The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kenya, Alfred Mutua, left, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, shake hands during a meeting as part of  the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Rolf Vennenbernd/DPA via AP, Pool)
            
              French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, left, and Kenya's Foreign Minister, Alfred Mutua, right, shake hands during a bilateral meeting at a G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting at the City Hall in Muenster, Germany, Nov. 4, 2022. (Bernd Lauter/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Clockwise from left, the Foreign Minister of France, Catherine Colonna, Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ghana, Alfred Mutua,  German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Foreign Minister of Great Britain, James Cleverly, the Vice Chair of the African Union Commission, Monique Nsanzabaganwa and the EU Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, talk at the Historic Town Hall during the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Rolf Vennenbernd/DPA via AP, Pool)
            
              French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, left, and Canada's Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, right, shake hands prior to a bilateral meeting as part of a G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting at the City Hall in Muenster, Germany, Nov. 4, 2022. (Bernd Lauter/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              From left to right, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kenya Alfred Mutua, British Foreign Minister James Cleverly and Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly talk during a session at the Historic Town Hall during the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Bernd Lauter/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Clockwise from left, the Foreign Minister of France, Catherine Colonna, Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ghana, Alfred Mutua,  German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock,  the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Foreign Minister of Great Britain, James Cleverly, the Vice Chair of the African Union Commission, Monique Nsanzabaganwa and the EU Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, pose for a photo at the Historic Town Hall during the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Bernd Lauter/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Great Britain's Foreign Minister James Cleverly, left, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs,  Josep Borrell, right, talk during a meeting as part of  the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Rolf Vennenbernd/DPA via AP, Pool)
            
              German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, holds a bilateral meeting her French counterpart Catherine Colonna, during the G-7 meeting of foreign ministers, in Muenster, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. (Wolfgang Rattay/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, second left, attends the first working session of G-7 foreign ministers with her counterparts Melanie Joly of Canada, centre right, Yoshimasa Hayashi of Japan,  second right, James Cleverly of Britain, centre left,  Josep Borrell of EU, right and Antonio Tajani of Italy, left, during the G-7 foreign ministers meeting in Muenster, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. (Wolfgang Rattay/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              CORRECTS MONTH --- United States secretary of state Antony Blinken, left, and Antonio Tajani of Italy, right, meet for bilateral talks at the G7 Foreign Minister's Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
            Antonio Tajani of Italy talks during his meeting with United States secretary of state Antony Blinken at bilateral talks at the G7 Foreign Ministers's Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool) United States secretary of state Antony Blinken, center, talks during his meeting with Antonio Tajani of Italy at bilateral talks at the G7 Foreign Ministers's Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool) From left, Great Britain's Foreign Minister James Cleverly, Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, Catherine Colonna, Foreign Minister of France, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock talk at the Historic Town Hall during the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, Germany, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa via AP)

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G-7 ministers back Ukraine support, are suspicious of China