Sans Putin, G-7 to Meet Next Week in Holland
President Putin had proudly anticipated hosting his peers at the annual G-8 summit in June on Russian soil. Russia, since winning acceptance in 1998 as a full-fledged member of the powerful club of leading economies, hosted the summit once, eight years ago in St. Petersburg.
But on Tuesday, President Obama and other world leaders said they would spurn Russia and meet next week as the G-7 to discuss the turmoil in Ukraine. It was the latest in a series of rebukes aimed at Moscow’s “land grab” of Crimea, as Vice President Biden described Putin’s announced annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.
Biden met with the leaders of NATO allies Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and Latvia to discuss additional sanctions against Russia, the energy needs of those three countries, and planned rotations of U.S. naval and ground forces in the region, described as training exercises.
The leaders of the Group of Seven nations -- the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, plus a representative of the European Union -- are determined to isolate Russia. They’ll gather at The Hague in the Netherlands, on the sidelines of a previously scheduled nuclear security summit.
Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday about additional economic sanctions, which the United States could announce before the G-7 gathering.
“The actions that Russia has taken, in clear violation of international law, in clear disregard for Ukraine's constitution, Ukraine's territorial integrity and Ukraine's sovereignty, have not been and will not be recognized by the international community,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
“The president is focused on working to build and sustain the consensus that exists in opposition to these actions and to ensure that we collectively -- both here in the United States and in Europe and Asia -- are working to support Ukraine, and to make it clear that these kinds of actions will not be accepted by the international community,” he added.
The U.S. and its allies had earlier announced a suspension of preparations for the June summit in Sochi, the Black Sea town where the Winter Olympics concluded last month. Obama hoped Putin might think twice about Russia’s plan to absorb Crimea, worried instead about preserving his country’s status and economic well-being among leading world powers. But Moscow was unmoved, and average Russians applauded their leader’s them-vs.-us outreach to the Russian-speaking people of Crimea.
By Tuesday, NATO-Russia ties were in question; the G-7 took back the G-8 (perhaps for good); and new global punishments loomed for Russia.
“Sanctions will increase,” Carney said when asked why the crackdown had not been tougher when announced on Monday.
Because Russia’s troop movements into Ukraine are deemed illegal -- a breach of international engagement and of Ukraine’s constitution -- Russia’s membership in international organizations is now in limbo. Russia worked its way into the World Trade Organization, for instance, just two years ago.
“The system that is in place through organizations with broad international membership that affect trade and politics -- through the United Nations and other organizations -- depend on fealty to the rule of law, a shared commitment to resolve differences through legal means,” the president’s spokesman said.
And such is the irony when it comes to Putin’s forfeited opening to play statesman at the summit. The agenda identified terrorism, health security, drugs, and management of natural and manmade disasters as top discussion priorities for the heads of state.
The final topic is in rehearsals wherever Obama and Putin gaze.
“Resolution of conflicts,” the Sochi program says.