If Vladimir Putin and his entourage were betting that the G-8 summit could still go forward without the participation of the United States, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom in the wake of their invasion of Ukraine, they were mistaken.
The White House has announced that the other three G-7 countries (Germany, Italy, and Japan) are also suspending their participation in the 2014 G-8 Summit, which had been scheduled to take place in Sochi.
Here’s the joint statement:
We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine. We call on Russia to address any ongoing security or human rights concerns that it has with Ukraine through direct negotiations, and/or via international observation or mediation under the auspices of the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We stand ready to assist with these efforts.
We also call on all parties concerned to behave with the greatest extent of self-restraint and responsibility, and to decrease the tensions.
We note that Russia’s actions in Ukraine also contravene the principles and values on which the G-7 and the G-8 operate.
As such, we have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June, until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have meaningful discussion.
We are united in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its right to choose its own future. We commit ourselves to support Ukraine in its efforts to restore unity, stability, and political and economic health to the country. To that end, we will support Ukraine’s work with the International Monetary Fund to negotiate a new program and to implement needed reforms. IMF support will be critical in unlocking additional assistance from the World Bank, other international financial institutions, the EU, and bilateral sources.
After the U.S., U.K., France, and Canada made it clear that their participation in the G-8 Summit was on ice, Putin’s spokesman dismissively declared, “It’s not a minus for Russia… it will be a minus for the G-8”, implying that the summit was still going forward. But if no other nation is attending, it isn’t a summit at all. How is it not a minus for Russia if nobody shows up to Vladimir Putin’s party in Sochi?
The G-7 nations – all members of NATO except for Japan – have the option of meeting without Russia at another time and place, and such a conference might end up displacing the G-8 Summit that Russia was going to host. That is Russia’s loss, whether Putin and his press flacks want to acknowledge it or not.
Disturbingly, The New York Times reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was left with a bad impression following her phone conversation with Putin this weekend. Merkel is said to have told Obama that she wasn’t sure if Putin was in touch with reality or not. If Putin is indeed operating “in another world,” as Merkel allegedly said, that’s not good news for prospects of a quick resolution to this crisis.