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G7 ministers slam Russia“s “nuclear rhetoric“, call on China to improve behaviour


British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, US 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 on April 18, 2023. YUICHI YAMAZAKI/Pool via REUTERS

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven rich nations on Tuesday condemned Russia’s recent talk of stationing nuclear weapons in Belarus as “unacceptable” and called on China to act as a responsible member of the international community.

The comments in the communique, marking the conclusion of a three-day meeting in the Japanese resort town of Karuizawa, highlight how the dual issues of Russian military intervention and fears of similar action by China against Taiwan, have been a focus for the gathering.

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

“Any use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by Russia would be met with severe consequences.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month said Russia would station shorter-range, so-called tactical nuclear weapons on its neighbour’s territory. Moscow says this move was forced upon it by the expansion of the NATO military alliance towards Russia’s borders.

It was the first time Russia had said it would station nuclear weapons on the territory of another country since the end of the Cold War three decades ago, and appeared to raise the stakes, at least symbolically, in an intensifying standoff with the West over the war in Ukraine.

The ministers said they reiterated their call for China to act as a responsible member of the international community, agreeing that peace and security in the Taiwan Strait was critical and opposing Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea.

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