Senior diplomats from the world’s major industrialized democracies will grapple with the implications of Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s growing economic weight, and take aim at Taiwan and Iran’s treatment of anti-government protesters when they will open two days of talks in Germany this week.
Gathered in the western German city of Munster, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the States United to provide update on situation in Ukraine nearly a year after meeting to warn Russia would face massive consequences if it goes ahead with plans to invade the former Soviet republic some believed exaggerated at the time.
Since that warning was issued two months before the actual launch of the invasion, the G-7 countries have largely followed through on their vow to punish Russia, although the sanctions have done little to deter Moscow, which has instead stepped up its attacks on civilian infrastructure, sent more troops, claimed to have annexed areas of Ukraine and raised the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons.
A looming crisis ministers expected to address at the meeting was averted on Wednesday when Russia agreed to resume a wartime deal that allowed Ukrainian grain and other commodities to reach world markets.
But there remain other troubling aspects of the situation in Ukraine, including energy supplies, Russian allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a so-called dirty bomb and suggestions that it may respond with nuclear weapons.
Senior US Biden officials traveling with Blinken said they expected talks on Thursday and Friday at Munster town hall which local officials say was last used for an international diplomatic event in 1648 when the Treaty of Westphalia was signed ending the 30 year war to reaffirm G-7 alignment and consistency on Ukraine and a number of other issues.
These include joint approaches from China, which has sided with Russia on Ukraine while seeking to boost investment in critical and sensitive infrastructure in the West, and Iran, which , in addition to carrying out a brutal crackdown on protesters, is accused of supplying Russia with armed drones. and possibly other weapons intended for use in Ukraine.
To maintain this unity, the G-7 has had to deal with many major changes since foreign ministers issued their stern pre-war ultimatum to the Kremlin last December in Liverpool, England: Britain is in its third prime minister, there is a new right… wing government in Italy, relations between Germany and France have frayed and control of the US Congress may be about to change, with potential implications for Ukrainian politics.
G-7 talks will aim to keep the bloc united in the face of the Ukraine conflict, which has exacerbated global food and energy shortages as famine looms in parts of Africa and winter approaches in Europe . Europe is now considering moving forward with price caps on Russian energy imports aimed at further stifling Russian revenue in what some hope could help convince the Kremlin to stop fighting and s engage in diplomacy.
There is a lot of common ground and solidarity, I think, within Europe, within the United States, on the need to support Ukraine’s heroic efforts to resist this invasion by Russia, said Howard Solomon, a senior official in the State Department’s office of European Affairs.
On China, which disappointed the West by siding with Russia over Ukraine, US officials said the G-7 would seek to further harmonize its policies on Chinese investment in their country as well as to warn against the antagonistic measures that Beijing could take against Taiwan. .
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will soon visit Beijing, the first European leader to make the trip since the start of the war in Ukraine, as Chinese investment in a major port project in Germany has raised fears in Washington and other countries. other capitals that China does not take control of critical infrastructure. in the heart of an allied country.
U.S. officials said they were pleased the contract had been changed to reduce China’s stake in the Port of Hamburg to a minority position, but said it was important for all nations to carefully consider Chinese investments proposed and the potential security threats they could bring.
Scholz pledged to use his trip to advocate for Chinese moderation and help to calm situations with Ukraine and Taiwan.
There appears to be growing unity in terms of positions and approaches on China, Solomon said.
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