The Group of Seven western democracies aims to court new allies to counter challenges from Russia.

Ahead of the first in-person G7 foreign ministers meeting since 2019, U.S. President Joe Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, sought to foster a message of multilateralism after four years of Twitter-diplomacy under Donald Trump variously shocked, bewildered and alarmed many Western allies.

“It is not our purpose to try to contain Russia or to hold Russia down,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference alongside British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

He said the West would defend “the international rules based order” from subversive attempts by any country, including Russia.

The diplomats were keen to let the world know the West will assert itself. Raab spoke of building alliances rather than severing them.

“I do see the increasing demand and need for agile clusters of like-minded countries that share the same values and want to protect the multilateral system,” Raab said.

Longer term, there are deep concerns in both Washington and European capitals about how the West should act towards Moscow.

Blinken said the United States would prefer more stable ties with Russia but that much depended on how Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to act, especially in theatres such as Ukraine.

“We have reaffirmed our unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Blinken said.

“We’re not looking to escalate: we would prefer to have a more stable, more predictable relationship. And if Russia moves in that direction, so will we.”

In addition to the G7 members Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, Britain has also invited ministers from Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea.