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Russia warned via G7 to de-escalate buildup on Ukraine border

LIVERPOOL, England: The Group of Seven economic powers (G7) has told Russia to “de-escalate” its military buildup near the Ukrainian border, warning that an invasion would have “massive consequences,” as well as severe economic effects.

Foreign ministers from the U.S., Britain and other G7 countries, joined by the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, issued a joint statement declaring that they are “united in our condemnation of Russia’s military buildup and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine.”

The G7 called on Russia to “de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels, and abide by its international commitments on transparency of military activities,” while praising Ukraine’s “restraint.”

“Any use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law,” the statement stressed.

Russia’s movement of weapons and troops dominated weekend talks among G7 foreign ministers held in Liverpool, England.

But Moscow denies planning to attack Ukraine and accuses Kyiv of its own alleged aggression.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the conference’s host, said the G7 was sending a “powerful signal to our adversaries and our allies,” which promised a “common and comprehensive response “but contained no details.”

The G7 was “considering all options” when it came to economic sanctions, she added.

Meanwhile, on NBC’s Meet the Press, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We are prepared to take the kinds of steps we have refrained from taking in the past” if Russia did not de-escalate.

But the U.S. and its allies have played down the possibility of a military response to defend Ukraine, focusing instead on tough sanctions that will hit the Russian economy, rather than just individuals.

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Asked about the possibility of sending combat troops to Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden responded, “Are you ready to send American troops into war and go into Ukraine to fight Russians on the battlefield?”

Biden, who spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a video call last week, said that in the event of an invasion, “the economic consequences for his economy are going to be devastating.”

A unified response to global crises from the G7, a group of countries with different interests, has often been difficult to obtain.

Germany plans to begin purchasing gas from Russia through the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which bypasses Ukraine, but Blinken said it was hard to see the pipeline becoming operational, “if Russia has renewed its aggression on Ukraine.”

“So I think President Putin has to factor that in, too, as he is thinking about what he is going to do next,” Blinken said.

Britain, which is not dependent on Russian gas, also has criticized the pipeline, but faces questions about London’s financial district and property market, which are both centers for Russian money.

While UK banking and financial authorities have long been criticized for allegedly turning a blind eye to the Russian presence, Truss insisted Britain has “very strong anti-corruption and anti-money laundering rules,” but also suggested that Russian money and Russian gas came at a high price.

“We cannot have short term economic gain at the expense of our long term freedom and democracy,” she said.