British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden during the G7 Summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom in June. The G7 alliance has unanimously warned of consequences if Russia were to attack Ukraine. File Photo by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The members of the G7 inter-governmental political forum have unanimously warned Moscow that Russia will face "massive consequences" if the country attacks Ukraine.
The G7, which includes representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, issued the statement while Russia appears to be sizing up for a ground invasion of Ukraine and staging troops along their shared border.
"We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the high representative of the European Union, are united in our condemnation of Russia's military build-up and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine," the statement reads.
The G7 called on Russia to de-escalate and pursue diplomatic channels in its ongoing conflict with Ukraine -- and referenced a 2015 mediation agreement known as the Minsk Protocol signed in a bid to stop conflict in the Donbas region of 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," the statement reads.
The G7 was not clear what consequences Russia could face, though President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin last week that such penalties could include "economic and other measures in the event of military escalation."
In 2008, NATO promised to give Ukraine full membership, which Putin has long seen as a threat. Ukraine joined NATO as a partner in June 2020 but does not currently benefit from collective defense agreements.
Earlier this month, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg indicated that the alliance would not defend Ukraine if Russia were to attack.
"It is important to distinguish between NATO allies and partner Ukraine. NATO allies, there we provide collective defense guarantees, collective defense guarantees, and we will defend and protect all allies.Ukraine is a partner, a highly-valued partner," he said.
Meanwhile, the G7 praised Ukraine for its restraint in its ongoing disputes with Russia after the latter re-absorbed Crimea within its borders.
"We commend Ukraine's posture of restraint. We will intensify our cooperation on our common and comprehensive response," the statement reads.
However, Russian-affiliated media blasted recent actions by Ukraine for having allegedly heightened the tensions between the two countries.
An old Ukrainian naval ship, which was unarmed, was involved in a training exercise on Thursday in a small waterway bordered by both countries.
After the incident, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv blasted Russia for its "false accusations" and said the Ukrainian ship had the right to use the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov.
Putin has asserted that Russia does not pose a threat to Ukraine or other nations, but has a right to defend itself -- and has referred to the conflict in Donbas as "genocide."