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Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

G‑7 democracies suspend participation in G‑8 summit in Sochi to protest invasion of Ukraine

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.

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