The top diplomats of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations on Friday called for Russia to immediately halt its assault on Ukraine and withdraw its military forces, warning of the possibility of further sanctions.
The joint statement released by seven of the world’s largest economies reinforced their commitments to coordinated economic penalties targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka and their supporters as exacting cost for invading Ukraine last week.
“We wish to make clear to the Russian and Belarusian people that the severe sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus are a consequence of and clear reaction to President Putin’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war against Ukraine,” the foreign ministers of the G-7 said in the statement.
“President Putin, and his government and supporters, and the Lukashenka regime, bear full responsibility for the economic and social consequences of these sanctions.”
The G-7 members include the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The G-7 kicked Russia out of the grouping, then called the G8, in 2014 in response to Putin’s invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula.
G-7 nations have coordinated a wide-ranging sanctions package against Russia that includes targeting some of its largest banks and removing some of those banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system – severely limiting Russia’s ability to process international financial transactions, an effort to bankrupt Moscow from carrying out its military campaign against Ukraine.
“Russia’s blatant violation of the fundamental principles of international peace and security and the breach of international law have not gone unanswered,” the statement read. “We have imposed several rounds of far-reaching economic and financial sanctions. We will continue to impose further severe sanctions in response to Russian aggression, enabled by the Lukashenka regime in Belarus.”
Russia’s currency, the ruble, hit record lows of at least 110 to the dollar as of Thursday, and Moscow’s stock market has been closed for five days straight.
The G-7 countries also spoke out against Russia’s assault and occupation of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, condemning the violent attacks on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia plant Thursday night as risking a nuclear catastrophe.
“We urge Russia to stop its attacks especially in the direct vicinity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants,” the statement read.
“Any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of the principles of international law,” the foreign ministers continued, and put their support behind an agreement reached between the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ukraine and Russia “to ensure the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.”
Russian military threats to Ukraine’s power plants are adding further alarm to the humanitarian crisis. Moscow is being accused of carrying out war crimes and crimes against humanity, with intense military strikes on civilians – with thousands believed killed – and destroying civilian infrastructure.
Condemnation of Russia’s actions has drawn support from around the world, the U.S.-led sanctions campaign joined by Canada, the U.K., Europe, Australia and countries in Asia.
A resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calling for Moscow’s withdrawal from the country passed with overwhelming support in the United Nations General Assembly, with 141 member-states voting in the affirmative.
Yet the resolution holds no enforcement mechanism, and a sanctions-regime crafted by the U.N. is unlikely to take shape given Russia’s veto power on the U.N. Security Council.