Speaking on the final day of a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Liverpool, Liz Truss also hinted she may be prepared to look again at the UK’s anti-money laundering laws that are seen by some as a way for Russian elites to stash their cash.
Ms Truss said that if Russia were to invade, it “would face massive consequences for which there would be severe cost”, amid fears over a Russian troop buildup.
The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia was being demonised for moving its troops within its own borders.
Although all foreign ministers at the G7 – a gathering of seven countries that collectively represent 50 per cent of global GDP – were clear that they had to send the strongest possible signal to Vladimir Putin not to invade Ukraine, there were differences of emphasis on the best kind of sanctions, and whether G7 domestic laws needed to be reviewed.
However, ministers agreed they were facing a pattern of disruptive behaviour by Russia, and that it was simply unacceptable for one country to try to use force to change the borders of another.
Ms Truss replied to a question on whether she was willing to launch a review into the UK’s anti-corruption laws in the wake of global criticism that London has acted as a haven for kleptocrats.
“We do have very strong anti-corruption and money laundering laws in the UK, but let us be clear, when the UK has wanted to send clear messages and achieve clear goals we have been prepared to use economic sanctions, so we are considering all options and together with our allies, including the US and our G7 partners, we have been very clear there would be severe consequences,” she said.
It was not clear from her reference to “all options” how far Truss intended to go.
The joint statement from the G7, which was due to be published later, warned Russia to stop its aggressive rhetoric, to de-escalate and use diplomatic channels including the Franco-German-led Normandy format.
EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday are likely to announce the start of a process to impose sanctions on the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group. Moscow denies Wagner is linked to the Russian state but has said the EU would face retaliation over any sanctions on its citizens.
The move is being pushed forward by France, which is concerned by the scale of Wagner group intervention in the Sahel region of Africa.
Ms Truss also said Iran had only a last chance to come back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. Foreign leaders in Liverpool exchanged notes on whether they believed Iran was being serious in seeking a deal in the talks in Vienna, or was instead playing for time.
Negotiators from Europe, Russia, China, the US and Iran have stayed in the Austrian capital over the weekend to work on a possible text that would see the US lift sanctions against Iran, leading to Tehran’s return to the nuclear deal.
“This is the last chance for Iran to come to the negotiating table with a serious resolution to this issue, which has to be agreeing the terms of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” Ms Truss said.
“This is their last chance and it is vital that they do so. We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
European diplomats claim that Iran’s behaviour cannot be seen as a true effort to secure a deal.
It is likely that if talks do make progress at the speed required by the US and Europe, a discussion at leaders’ level will be called to decide whether to refer Iranian noncompliance with the 2015 deal to an emergency board meeting of the UN’s nuclear inspectorate. That would signal the start of the final collapse of the deal. At the same time, however, diplomats stressed that some progress had been made over the past three days because Iran was no longer insisting that talks focused on drafts the newly elected regime had prepared.
The G7 members, joined by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, spent the evening at the Beatles Museum, which has a Cavern club mock-up inside, and were due to travel to Anfield, the home of Liverpool football club, for lunch. –Guardian