Connect with us

World

G7 ministers present united front against Russia over Ukraine crisis

The world's wealthiest democracies on Saturday sought to present a united front against Russian aggression toward Ukraine as Britain hosted a meeting of foreign ministers in the northern English city of Liverpool.

The G7 meeting, attended in person by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts from France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada, comes amid international concern that Russia could invade Ukraine. Russia denies planning any attack.

British foreign minister Liz Truss met Blinken on Friday night where they expressed deep concern about the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine's border, the foreign office in London said in a statement.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Any incursion by Russia “would be a strategic mistake for which there would be serious consequences,” it said.

“We need to defend ourselves against the growing threats from hostile actors and we need to come together strongly to stand up to aggressors who are seeking to limit the bounds of freedom and democracy,” Truss told foreign ministers at the start of the meeting. “To do this, we need to have a stronger united voice”

Ukraine is at the center of a crisis in East-West relations as it accuses Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops in preparation for a possible large-scale military offensive.

Russia accuses Ukraine and the US of destabilizing behavior, and has said it needs security guarantees for its own protection.

Washington is sending its top diplomat for Europe, Assistant Secretary Karen Donfried, to Ukraine and Russia on December 13-15 to meet with senior government officials.

“Assistant Secretary Donfried will emphasize that we can make diplomatic progress on ending the conflict in the Donbas through implementation of the Minsk agreements in support of the Normandy Format,” the US State Department said in a statement.

Age of introspection

Ministers arrived at the Museum of Liverpool to a brass band playing Christmas carols, before convening the first formal meeting session which will look at geopolitical issues including nuclear talks with Iran and the military buildup in Iran.

The G7 meeting “is about a show of unity between like-minded major economies, that we are going to absolutely be strong in our stance against aggression, against aggression with respect to Ukraine,” Truss told reporters ahead of the talks.

Britain, as current chair of the G7, is calling for its members to be more strident in their defense of what it calls “the free world”.

Earlier this week, Truss said the “age of introspection” for the West was over and it needed to wake up to the dangers of rival ideologies. She has highlighted the economic risks of Europe's dependence on Russian gas and the wider security threat posed by Chinese technology as examples.

The G7 meeting is also expected to result in a joint call for Iran to moderate its nuclear program and grasp the opportunity of ongoing talks in Vienna to revive a multilateral agreement on its nuclear development.

Both Truss and Blinken stressed the need for Iran to engage in the talks, according to the foreign office statement.

Germany, which takes over the rotating G7 leadership from Britain next year, is expected to set out its program for 2022 at the meeting.

Ministers from the European Union, Australia, South Korea and India will take part in some sessions as guests of the G7, along with representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Read more:

Russia sending snipers and tanks to try to provoke return fire by Ukraine, says Kiev

Biden told Putin he’d send Ukraine more weapons if it’s attacked

Biden says he was clear Putin would pay for a Ukraine invasion

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

World

Syria requests international aid after massive earthquake


The Syrian government on Monday urged the international community to come to its aid after more than 850 people died in the country following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in neighboring Turkey.

“Syria appeals to member states of the United Nations… the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian” groups to support “efforts to face the devastating earthquake,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the Syrian government was ready “to provide all the required facilities to international organizations so they can give Syrians humanitarian aid”, after meeting with UN representatives and aid groups.

The quake killed at least 461 people and left at least 1,326 more injured in government-controlled parts of Syria, including the provinces of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, the health ministry said.

In rebel-held parts of the northwest of the country, at least 390 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured, The White Helmets rescue group said.

More than a decade of conflict and years of economic sanctions have devastated Syria’s economy and its ability to respond to large-scale disasters.

The Syrian government’s main allies Iran and Russia have expressed willingness to send aid, in addition to some Gulf states that restored ties with Damascus, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The conflict in Syria started in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global militants.

Nearly half a million people have been killed, and the conflict has forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes, with many seeking refuge in Turkey.

At least 2.9 million people in Syria are at risk of sliding into hunger, while another 12 million do not know where their next meal is coming from, the UN said in January.

Read more: Can earthquakes be predicted? UAE-based expert seismologist weighs in

Continue Reading

World

UN experts alarmed at ‘forced assimilation’ of around million children in Tibet


Around a million Tibetan children have been separated from their families and put through “forced assimilation” at Chinese residential schools, three United Nations experts said on Monday.

The special rapporteurs voiced their alarm at Chinese government policies aimed at assimilating Tibetan people culturally, religiously, and linguistically through the schools system, raising concerns about a reported increase in the number of such schools.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
“We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential school system for Tibetan children appears to act as a mandatory large-scale program intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards,” the experts said in a joint statement.

The special rapporteurs on minority issues, education, and cultural rights said that in these schools, the educational content is built around Han culture, with Tibetans denied access to “traditional or culturally relevant learning.”

“Tibetan children are losing their facility with their native language and the ability to communicate easily with their parents and grandparents in the Tibetan language, which contributes to their assimilation and erosion of their identity,” the experts said.

UN special rapporteurs are unpaid independent experts mandated by the UN Human Rights Council. They do not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

The experts said their information pointed to the “vast majority” of Tibetan children being put through residential schools.

“We are alarmed by what appears to be a policy of forced assimilation of the Tibetan identity into the dominant Han-Chinese ma-jority, through a series of oppressive actions against Tibetan educational, religious and linguistic institutions,” they said.

In the interest of building a socialist state based on a single Chinese identity, “initiatives to promote Tibetan language and culture are reportedly being suppressed, and individuals advocating for Tibetan language and education are persecuted,” the special rap-porteurs said.

Tibet has alternated over the centuries between independence and control by China, which says it “peacefully liberated” the rugged plateau in 1951 and brought infrastructure and education to the previously underdeveloped region.

But many exiled Tibetans accuse China’s ruling Communist Party of repression, torture, and eroding their culture.

Read more: China slams US sanctions over alleged human rights abuses in Tibet

Continue Reading

World

Swiss neutrality on the line as arms-for-Ukraine debate heats up


Switzerland is close to breaking with centuries of tradition as a neutral state, as a pro-Ukraine shift in the public and political mood puts pressure on the government to end a ban on exports of Swiss weapons to war zones.

Buyers of Swiss arms are legally prevented from re-exporting them without Swiss permission, a restriction that some representing the country’s large weapons industry say is now hurting trade.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Calls from Switzerland’s European neighbors to allow such transfers to Kyiv have meanwhile grown louder as Russia’s assault intensifies, and parliament’s two security committees recommended that the rules be eased accordingly.

Lawmakers are divided on the issue.

“We want to be neutral, but we are part of the western world,” said Thierry Burkart, leader of the center-right FDP party, who has submitted a motion to the government to allow arms re-exports to countries with similar democratic values to Switzerland.

Under Swiss neutrality, which dates back to 1815 and is enshrined by treaty in 1907, Switzerland will not send weapons directly or indirectly to combatants in a war. It operates a separate embargo on arms sales to Ukraine and Russia.

Third countries can in theory apply to Bern to re-export Swiss weapons they have in their stocks, but permission is almost always denied.

“We shouldn’t have the veto to stop others helping Ukraine. If we do that, we support Russia which is not a neutral position,” Burkart told Reuters.

“Other countries want to support Ukraine and do something for the security and stability of Europe… They cannot understand why Switzerland has to say no.”

Increasing numbers of Swiss voters agree. A survey by pollsters Sotomo published on Sunday showed 55 percent of respondents favor allowing weapons re-exports to Ukraine.

“If we had asked this question before the war…, the response would have probably been less than 25 percent.

Talking about changing neutrality was a taboo in the past,” Lukas Golder, co-director of pollsters GFS-Bern, told Reuters.

Money talks?

The government – under pressure from abroad after rejecting German and Danish requests for permission to re-export Swiss armored vehicles and ammunition for anti-aircraft tanks – said it would not prejudge parliamentary discussions.

Bern “adheres to the existing legal framework.. and will deal with the proposals in due course,” said a spokesman for the Department of Economic Affairs, which oversees arms-related trade issues.

Burkart said he had received positive signals on a law change from other parties in the fragmented legislature.

The left-leaning Social Democrats say they are in favor of changes, as are the Green Liberals, although the Greens remain opposed.

Meanwhile the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the lower house’s largest party and traditionally staunch defenders of neutrality, now appears divided.

“Allowing arms shipments to a country involved in an armed conflict is … destroying the basis of peace and prosperity in our country,” said SVP lawmaker David Zuberbueler.

SVP member Werner Salzmann, who sits in the upper parliamentary house, disagrees, raising concerns in the Aargauer Zeitung daily about collateral damage to a Swiss defense industry that also backs the campaign for a law change.

The sector, which includes multinationals Lockheed Martin and Rheinmetall, sold 800 million Swiss francs’ ($876 million) worth of armaments abroad in 2021 according to government data, putting it in the global top 15 of exporter nations.

Having a strong arms industry has gone hand in hand with the tradition of neutrality, but the balance of this duality may now be under threat, industry association SwissMem said.

“Some of our members have lost contracts or are no longer investing in Switzerland because of the current restrictions,” said SwissMem director Stefan Brupbacher.

“Our current situation weakens our security policy…, hampers the credibility of our foreign policy and damages our companies,” he said. “It’s time to change.”

Read more: US reverses course, will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

Continue Reading

Trending