It’s the first time since Russia joined the G8 in 1998 that it will have been shut out of the annual summit of industrialised countries.
As a response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, G7 leaders agreed on Monday to hold their own summit in Brussels in June, instead of attending a G8 meeting originally set to take place in the Olympic city of Sochi.
Meeting in the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague on Monday, without Russia, the G7 leaders also suspended their participation in the G8 until Moscow changes course.
“We have decided to cancel the G8 in Sochi and we are going to organize a G7, so without Russia, in Brussels, around the same dates. I think this is a very strong political message that this kind of behaviour can not be tolerated, that we need to respect the integrity and, of course, the independence of a country, a European country like Ukraine. I can tell you that around the table, with the other G7 leaders, I have seen a great determination of all those countries including countries like Japan, Canada or of course United States, in terms of expressing their solidarity to Ukraine and their support to Ukraine and the condemnation of the actions by Moscow.” European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said.
European leaders agreed late last week to impose sanctions against 33 Ukrainians and Russians, including freezing assets and visa bans.
Both the US and the EU have also warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that there will be additional measures if Moscow does not change course.
“(…)How we can prevent Russia to go further distabilising Ukraine and how can we take measures, if there are next steps in this kind of distabilisation measures, restrictive measures, sanctions and so on. There are further steps which deteriorated the situation, then we’ll envisage even economic sanctions, we asked the European Commission to prepare all this, so this will be the topic, Ukraine, at the G7 meeting.’ said European Council president Herman Van Rompuy.
G7 leaders also urged the International Monetary Fund to reach an agreement with Ukraine to unlock urgently needed financial aid for the country’s shattered economy.