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West Further Isolates Russia, G-8 Summit in Russia Canceled

Published: March 25, 2014 (Issue # 1802)



  • President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine at the conclusion of their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Mar. 12.
    Photo: Pete Souza / Official White House Photo

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.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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