G7 unite to condemn Russia for behaviour that has ‘undermined international law’

Foreign ministers from the G7 have united to condemn Russia for behaviour they said undermined international law. 

The ministers also called on Moscow to help resolve the conflict in Syria and they all agreed to create a working group to study Russia’s “malign behaviour”. 

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said there were concerns about Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and Syria. 

Mr Johnson’s comments to reporters on the margins of a two-day meeting of G7 ministers in Toronto underlined how tensions between Moscow and the West have increased steadily over recent years.

American intelligence agencies have said Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election campaign, and Russia has also been blamed for a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain last month.

Mr Johnson said the G7 ministers had agreed on the need to be vigilant about Russia, which denies interfering in the US election and any involvement in the attack in Britain.

“What we decided … was that we were going to set up a G7 group that would look at Russian malign behaviour in all its manifestations – whether it’s cyber warfare, whether it’s disinformation, assassination attempts, whatever it happens to be and collectively try to call it out,” he told reporters.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who hosted the event, said G7 ministers expressed deep concern about the “despicable” nerve agent attack in Britain and Russia’s efforts to destabilise democracies by meddling in elections.

“The G7 countries are committed to preventing, stopping and responding to foreign interference,” she told a news conference at the end of talks.

“There are consequences for those who seek to undermine our democracies,” she said, adding there was clear unity among G7 allies on Russia.

The challenge for the G7 is that it also needs Moscow’s help to solve the crisis in Syria, where Russia and Iran are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Acting US Secretary of State John Sullivan called on Moscow to stop creating impediments to peace in Syria and to play a role in ending the seven-year-long conflict.

“Russia must be a constructive partner in Syria or will be held accountable,” he told reporters.

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