As G7 summits go, this weekend’s in Liverpool was a paragon of efficiency and unity.
It was all wrapped up by 2pm with four short statements, the key one on Russia and Ukraine. Testament to the alarm felt among western allies about Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine.
Foreign ministers reached united agreement. No euro rows about fish or sausages or differences over how firm to be with the Chinese.
Just uncompromising firm language urging Russia not to try anything with Ukraine.
“Any use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law. Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response,” said a statement.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss reinforced that in the only press conference of the meeting.
“What we’ve seen this weekend is very much a united voice from the G7 nations who represent 50% of the global GDP being very clear that there would be massive consequences for Russia in the case of an incursion into Ukraine that would carry a severe cost,” she said.
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What consequences, and exacting what cost, is less clear.
Vladimir Putin has heard no end of stern statements and threats made by Western countries and groupings and carried on regardless. He now has as many as 175,000 troops poised ready to invade Ukraine.
Moscow says they’re only there for an exercise. Western intelligence says it has information suggesting otherwise.
Russia is already under sanctions in the wake of its 2014 invasion of Crimea.
So it may take more than strong words and a show of unity to deter Putin from ordering his forces in.
He has plenty of reasons to tempt him to invade his neighbour. He says Ukraine’s recent orientation towards the West is an aberration. It’s his fervent belief that it belongs in Russia’s orbit.
Moreover the better Ukraine thrives outside of that orbit the more it shows up the failings of Putin’s stagnating and repressed Russia.
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A military offensive into his neighbour would be a distraction from those failings.
There are plenty of reasons not to. It would be extremely bloody. The worst violence Europe will have seen since the Second World War was the cheery assessment of Britain’s new armed forces chief.
And Putin knows the economic cost in terms of punitive sanctions will only add to his failing economy’s problems. But it is still up to the West to spell quite how massive the consequences and severe the costs will be. And by what instruments it intends to make Putin suffer.
Without that Russia’s leader may call their bluff as his options continue to dwindle.
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