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G7 snubs Russia summit over Ukraine crisis

The leaders also threatened tougher sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

President Barack Obama and other G7 Leaders meeting at the official residence of the Dutch Prime Minister in The Hague, Netherlands today.
President Barack Obama and other G7 Leaders meeting at the official residence of the Dutch Prime Minister in The Hague, Netherlands today.
Image: Press Association Images

THE G7 GROUP of top economic powers today scrapped a planned meeting to be hosted by Russia as they sought to deepen Moscow’s isolation over the Ukraine crisis.

After emergency talks called by US President Barack Obama, the G7 said they would hold a meeting in Brussels without Russia instead of the wider G8 summit that was to have taken place in Sochi.

The G7 also threatened tougher sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea, which has plunged relations between the West and Moscow to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

The meeting in The Hague came as Ukraine ordered its outnumbered troops to withdraw from Crimea as yet another of its bases was stormed and the White House said it was “very concerned” by the Russian troop build-up on the border.

Sanctions

“We remain ready to intensify actions including coordinated sectoral sanctions that will have an increasingly significant impact on the Russian economy, if Russia continues to escalate this situation,” the leaders said in a statement.

The G7 “came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities. Russia’s actions in recent weeks are not consistent with them. Under these circumstances, we will not participate in the planned Sochi summit,” they added.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defiantly dismissed such a move as “no great tragedy” after separate talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukraine’s interim Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya.

“If our Western partners think that this format (the G8) has outlived itself, then so be it,” Lavrov told reporters.

image

G7 Leaders meeting at Catshuis, the official residence of the Dutch Prime Minister, in The Hague. (PA image)

Crimea

“We are not trying to hold on to this format, and we see no great tragedy if it does not meet,” Lavrov said, insisting that Crimea has “a right to self-determination”.

Russia’s takeover of the region was not “malicious intent”, said Lavrov, but was to “protect the Russians who have been living there for hundreds of years”.

Moscow was added to the G7 club of the US, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Canada and Britain — seen as the world’s top diplomatic and economic table — in 1999 as a reward for choosing the path of democracy after the collapse of Communism.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the snubbing of Russia was “perhaps the most significant action because it shows that all these different countries have not accepted the annexation of Crimea as a fait accompli”.

Fabius stressed that the G7 had agreed to work out how to reduce their energy dependency on Russia.

“Because when we talk about sanctions, possible reactions, energy questions must be asked,” Fabius said.

“We must be in a situation where we don’t depend as much as we do today on Russia,” he said.

© – AFP 2014

Related: Outnumbered: Ukrainian troops withdraw from Crimea>

Read: “The aim of Putin is not Crimea but all of Ukraine”: Kiev fears Russia ready to attack>

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