The United States and the United Kingdom have threatened Russia with "massive consequences" if it launches a military action in neighboring Ukraine, despite the fact that Moscow has rejected Washington’s allegations of preparing to invade the country.
A senior US State Department official on Saturday said the Group of Seven richest countries and its allies will impose tough measures if Russia abandons diplomacy in dealing with Ukraine.
The official told reporters at a meeting of the grouping's top diplomats in Liverpool, northwest England, that Russia still had time to adopt a diplomatic path to de-escalate the tensions with Ukraine.
"But if they choose not to pursue that path, there will be massive consequences and severe costs in response, and the G7 is absolutely united in that," the official said.
"A large number of democratic countries will join us in imposing costs," the official added.
Led by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the European Union and foreign ministers from France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada met in Liverpool.
The State Department official described talks among G7 foreign ministers in Britain as "intense.”
Opening the talks, Britain's foreign secretary warned that Russia would face “severe consequences” if it invaded Ukraine.
"We need to come together strongly to stand up to aggressors who are seeking to limit the bounds of freedom and democracy,” Truss told the delegates.
"To do this, we need to have a fully united voice. We need to expand our economic and security posture around the world."
The United States, its NATO allies and Ukraine have over the past weeks accused Moscow of enlarging the number of troops near Ukraine's border for a possible invasion. Russia has dismissed the allegation, but it has warned against any provocation from Ukraine.
Moscow says Washington is involved in aggressive moves in the Black Sea, where Ukraine and the United States have held military drills recently.
Biden: Russia will pay 'a terrible price' if it invades Ukraine
US President Joe Biden on Saturday said he had made it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia would pay "a terrible price" and face devastating economic consequences if it invaded Ukraine.
Biden, who spoke with Putin by telephone for two hours last week, told reporters the possibility of sending US ground combat troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion was "never on the table.”
"I made it absolutely clear to President Putin ... that if he moves on Ukraine, the economic consequences for his economy are going to be devastating, devastating," he said.
Biden said he told the Russian president clearly that Moscow’s standing in the world would change "markedly" in the event of an invasion of Ukraine.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also warned Russia against escalating any conflict in Ukraine.
"There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force against the independence of the nation," he said, according to Reuters.
In response, Putin warned that Moscow will act if the US-led NATO military alliance crosses its red lines in Ukraine.
Putin said the expansion of NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine was a red line he hoped would not be crossed.
The Russian leader further said Moscow would view the deployment of certain offensive missile capabilities on Ukrainian soil as a trigger.
In a two-hour virtual summit on Tuesday, Putin and Biden discussed the crisis, with the latter saying he plans to organize a meeting between Russia and NATO countries to discuss Moscow's concerns and ways of "bringing down the temperature on the eastern front.”
Biden, however, issued a stern warning, saying Washington would impose "strong economic and other measures" on Russia if it invaded Ukraine.
When asked if he would send troops, Biden said, "That’s not on the table."
Washington and its allies have been harping on about, what they claim is, Moscow's ill-intentioned plans for Ukraine since 2014, when a wave of protests overthrew Ukraine's democratically-elected pro-Moscow government and replaced it with a Western-leaning administration.
A crisis followed after the majority of people in Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to accept the new changes and took up arms against Ukrainian troops.
Kiev and the Western countries accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow denies the allegations.
The Biden administration is sending its top diplomat for Europe, Assistant Secretary Karen Donfried, to Ukraine and Russia on December 13-15 to meet with senior government officials.
"Assistant Secretary Donfried will emphasize that we can make diplomatic progress on ending the conflict in the Donbass through implementation of the Minsk agreements in support of the Normandy Format," the State Department said in a statement.