In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Group of Seven (G-7) leading industrial nations have pledged to cooperate following leaders' talks online. Their joint statement strongly criticized the "large-scale military aggression by the Russian Federation" in contravention of international law, and sought an immediate stop to the attack and the withdrawal of troops. The countries also announced their support for and partnership with Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is referred to by name and blamed for having "reintroduced war to the European continent." It also condemns Putin for his "consistent refusal to engage in a diplomatic process" despite having the opportunities offered.
Many are dying on the ground. The number of refugees who have been forced to leave their homes has risen to around 100,000. The G-7 countries also agreed to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine.
In this situation, which doesn't allow for a moment's hesitation, the G-7 presented a united front. But this will not be enough to stop the military action. There must be cooperation to execute harsher countermeasures.
Japan, the U.S. and Europe have announced economic sanctions. The United States has banned trade with Russia's major banks, and suspended supplies of semiconductors to cutting-edge industries. The EU has added new measures including export controls on high-tech products, and Japan is taking steps such as restricting exports of semiconductors to military-related firms. All these measures are aimed at dealing a blow to the Russian economy.
Of concern, however, is the gap in the level of commitment between the United States and Europe.
There was discussion over whether to exclude Russian banks from an international transaction system, but reluctance from Europe meant the measures were forgone this time. Measures to completely suspend trade with Russia would create difficulties in Europe's ability to secure energy supplies, which would have serious economic ramifications.
Russia seems to have anticipated sanctions and carefully prepared for them. It has amassed foreign exchange reserves to withstand a weakened ruble, and with China, it aims to build a separate international transaction system. To support a fall in energy exports to Europe, it has also increased its dealings with China.
Opposition to Russia must go ahead with preparedness for the conflict to become protracted.
It is important that the G-7's unity is not compromised. Time is needed for the effects of sanctions to be seen. If the group's cooperation falls apart, Putin could take advantage of that.
The effects of sanctions on Russia will reach the whole world. The G-7 states should support emerging powers and other nations set to take an economic hit, and should also enforce plans that ensure coordinated actions.