Britain and US rally G7 allies against Russia and China threats
Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, and the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, have called for a revitalised and broadened alliance of G7 nations determined to defend open societies and the rules-based order from the threats posed by the autocracies of China and Russia.
Speaking after a meeting in London yesterday, Raab said he saw an “increasing demand and need for an agile cluster of countries that share the same values and want to protect the multilateral system”.
He said the fact the UK had asked Australia, South Korea, India and South Africa to the G7 foreign ministers meeting was “a sign that we can see a shift to a pattern of like-minded countries working together”.
Raab said that the door to diplomacy was always open with autocracies, but also warned Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, to end his “brinkmanship sabre-rattling on the border of Ukraine, the cyber-attacks and misinformation and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, that was not just a human rights abuse but a use of chemical weapons on Russian soil”.
Blinken said it was “not the US purpose to contain China, or hold it down”, adding: “What we are trying to do is to uphold the international rules-based order, that our countries have invested so much in over so many decades to the benefit, I would argue not just of our own citizens but of people around the world, including, by the way, China.”
In remarks that underline how far the US has moved from the America First era of Donald Trump, Blinken said: “The challenge for us is to demonstrate that we can deliver for our citizens and when we are looking at most of the issues that are having an impact on their lives.”
Wider G7 talks today and tomorrow are likely to range over major international crises, but the unifying theme is likely to be the defence of open societies, from Myanmar and Libya to Syria. Biden has promised to stage a democracies summit, an event to which Raab made reference.
Blinken also hailed the “special relationship” between the two countries, saying that the US had “no closer ally, no closer partner”. He skirted around the chance to call out the UK for its recent cuts to its overseas aid budget, and avoided explicit criticism over how the UK has potentially put the Good Friday agreement at risk during the Brexit talks
Blinken also denied that the US had failed to consult its allies before announcing the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by September saying the decision had been endorsed unanimously at Nato.