US, allies expel Russia from G8

Russia has been expelled from the Group of 8 by world leaders at The Hague.Russia has been expelled from the Group of 8 by world leaders at The Hague. Photo: AP

Rome: US President Barack Obama and leaders of the world’s largest industrialised countries have expelled Russia from the Group of Eight until it “changes course” in Ukraine and formally cancelled plans to attend an economic summit in Russia in June.

The move was aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to host the G8 group of economic powers at Sochi,  which would have been its second starring role on the world stage after this northern winter’s Olympics.
Instead, the G7 leaders will meet in Brussels without Mr Putin. At the same time, the group said it would not send its foreign ministers to a planned G8 meeting in Moscow next month.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: Russia's expulsion from the G8 would be no "great tragedy".Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: Russia’s expulsion from the G8 would be no “great tragedy”. Photo: Reuters

G7 leaders pledged that they “remain ready” to intensify sanctions if Russia takes further action in Ukraine.


“This group came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities. Russia’s actions in recent weeks are not consistent with them,” the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States said in what they called “The Hague Declaration”.
The president of the European Council and the president of the European Commission also signed the statement.
The leaders met at Mr Obama’s urging at The Hague while attending a nuclear security summit.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters that Russia’s expulsion from the G8 would be no “great tragedy”, Voice of Russia reported.
“If our Western partners think that this format has outlived itself, then so be it,” Mr Lavrov said after holding his first talks since the annexation of Crimea with Andriy Deshchytsya, Ukraine’s interim foreign minister.
Mr Lavrov told Mr Deshchytsya that constitutional reform was needed in Ukraine to protect Russian speakers in the country.
In Crimea, a power failure plunged much of the  capital, Simferopol, into darkness on Monday as the Ukrainian government in Kiev appeared to retaliate against Russia’s occupation and annexation of the peninsula by sharply cutting electricity supplied from the mainland.
Officials in Simferopol and Moscow had anticipated such a move. In recent days, regional officials said they had acquired 900 generators to provide electricity to vital buildings, including hospitals. It was not immediately clear if those generators were in use.
In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the issues of power and water supplies “should be settled through international negotiations”, according to the Interfax news service.
In Washington, both Republicans and Mr Obama’s fellow Democrats said they were disappointed the G7 had not gone further. Members of the US Senate said Russia should be barred permanently, not temporarily, from the G8.
By a vote of 78-17 on Monday, senators laid the groundwork for debating a bill that would back a $US1 billion ($1.1 billion) loan guarantee for the government in Kiev, provide $US150 million ($165 million) in aid for Ukraine and neighbouring countries and require sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians responsible for corruption, human rights abuses or undermining stability in Ukraine.

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