G7 vows to intensify sanctions on Russia over war in Ukraine

Clockwise from left, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora pose for photographs at the start of the fifth working session of a G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting at the Prince Karuizawa hotel in Karuizawa, Japan Tuesday, April 18, 2023. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP)

Top diplomats from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies vowed a unified front against Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, saying at the close of their meetings Tuesday that they were committed to boosting and enforcing tough sanctions against Moscow.

The G-7 communique laying out their commitments also included strong words meant to curb what the ministers see as increasing Chinese and North Korean aggressiveness in Northeast Asia.

But it was Russia’s invasion against Ukraine that highlighted the three-day summit in this hot spring resort town.

“There can be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities such as Russia’s attacks against civilians and critical civilian infrastructure,” the ministers said.

“We remain committed to intensifying sanctions against Russia, coordinating and fully enforcing them,” the communique said, and would support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

“Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its threat to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus are unacceptable,” the ministers said.


The foreign ministers’ document was prepared as a template for global leaders to use at a G-7 summit that will be held in Hiroshima next month, and included language about Iran, Myanmar, nuclear proliferation and other “grave issues.”

But two crises stood out: China’s increasing threats to, and military maneuvers around, Taiwan, the self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its own, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s current offensive is largely stalled and Ukraine is preparing a counteroffensive, but there’s widespread global worry about the Russian leader’s repeated threats to use tactical nuclear weapons.

The G-7 ministers from Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and the European Union have underlined that their meeting in Karuizawa marked a crucial moment in the world’s response to both crises, which are seen as challenges to the post-World War II rules-based international order. Global efforts to confront the matters at the United Nations have been stymied by Chinese and Russian intransigence on the Security Council.

Leaders and foreign ministers of G-7 countries, most recently France and Germany, have recently concluded visits to China, and there is growing worry after China recently sent planes and ships to simulate an encirclement of Taiwan. Beijing has also been rapidly adding nuclear warheads, taking a tougher line on its claim to the South China Sea and painting a scenario of impending confrontation.

The G-7 ministers said that peace and stability between China and Taiwan is “an indispensable element in security and prosperity in the international community,” and the called for “the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”

The communique also urged China to “abstain from threats, coercion, intimidation, or the use of force. We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas. ... There is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarization activities in the region.”

The Biden administration has seen the Japan talks as a way to shore up support for Ukraine, including a major initiative on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure launched at last year’s G-7 gatherings in Germany, and to ensure the continued provision of military assistance to Kyiv. Nations are also looking to ramp up punishment against Russia, particularly through economic and financial sanctions.