TORONTO – Cabinet ministers from the G7 countries have committed to taking Russia to task for what Britain’s foreign secretary described Monday as a broad range of “malign” behavior
Boris Johnson said the G7 ministers agreed during their Sunday discussion on the need to address the disruptive influence of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The G7s foreign and interior ministries are holding talks in Toronto, where Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, has pushed Russia to the top of a packed agenda that includes North Korea, Iran and the ongoing Syrian crisis.
The talks are part of a series of ministerial-level gatherings in the run-up to the G7 leaders’ summit which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host in June in Charlevoix, Quebec.
“What we decided … was that we were going to set up a G7 group that would look at Russian malign behavior in all its manifestations, whether it’s cyberwar, whether it’s disinformation, assassination attempts, whatever it happens to be, and collectively try and call it out,” Johnson said.
“Russia is so unbelievably clever at kind of sowing doubt and confusion and spreading all this fake news and trying to muddy the waters. We think there’s a role for the G7 in just trying to provide some clarity.”
The ministers will also be tackling the issue of how best to deal with foreign fighters who are returning from Middle East battlefields.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Monday that the defeat of Islamic State militants last year in Syria has caused them to spread out — geographically as well as on the internet — and pose a renewed and potentially more insidious threat.
Other security issues include the nuclear standoff with North Korea, the crisis in Venezuela, possible war crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims and ongoing civil unrest in Syria and the Middle East.