West Further Isolates Russia, G-8 Summit in Russia Canceled
Published: March 25, 2014 (Issue # 1802)
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Seeking to isolate Russia, President Barack Obama and Western allies moved to indefinitely cut Moscow out of a major international coalition on Monday, including canceling an economic summit Russian President Vladimir Putin was to host this summer.
The moves came amid a flurry of diplomatic jockeying as the U.S. and Europe grappled for ways to punish Russia for its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and to prevent Moscow from pressing further into Ukraine. Also in the Hague, in an unexpected development, Russia's foreign minister met with his Ukrainian counterpart, the highest level of contact between the two nations since Russia moved forces into Crimea nearly a month ago.
Obama huddled with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan for an emergency meeting of the Group of Seven. Ahead of their private talks, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the G-7 would not join with Russia this year for the annual meeting of the Group of Eight.
"As long as the political environment for the G-8 is not there, as at the moment, there is no G-8 — neither as a concrete summit nor as a format," said Merkel, one of Putin's closest Western allies. Russia had been scheduled to host the summit this summer in Sochi, site of the recent Winter Olympics.
A Western diplomat said the G-7 leaders would instead meet in Brussels in June. The choice of location was symbolic, putting the meeting in the headquarters city of the European Union and NATO, two organizations seeking to bolster ties with Ukraine.
White House officials indicated Obama was in step with Merkel. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said that as long as Putin keeps "flagrantly violating international law," there's no reason for the G-7 to engage with Russia. At the same time, he suggested that the U.S. and other nations were not prepared to permanently disband the G-8.
"The door is open to Russia to de-escalate the situation," Rhodes said.
Russia's actions have sparked one of Europe's deepest political crises in decades and drawn comparisons to the Cold War era's tensions between East and West. Obama and other Western leaders have condemned Russia's movements as a violation of international law and have ordered economic sanctions on Putin's close associates, though those punishments appear to have done little to change the Russian leaders' calculus.
Pages:  [2 ]