G7 leaders affirm Russia sanctions

Written by on June 8, 2015 in Europe - Comments Off on G7 leaders affirm Russia sanctions

The leaders of seven of the world’s most powerful countries agreed on Monday to toughen sanctions on Russia, if necessary, to press for a political solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

At the annual Group of Seven (G7) summit, the leaders said current sanctions will remain in place until Russia helps to fully implement a peace plan agreed to in February in Minsk, Belarus.

That indicates that the European members of the group will support the extension of key European Union sanctions at their summit this month.

The G7 communiqué warned, “we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase (the) cost on Russia should its actions so require.”

A brief offensive by Russian-backed separatists last week raised new concerns about the sincerity of Russia’s commitment to finding a political solution.

U.S. President Barack Obama said, “Russian forces continue to operate in eastern Ukraine, violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

He said existing sanctions have crippled the Russian economy, and he said Russian President Vladimir Putin has to decide whether to “continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation in pursuit of a wrongheaded desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet Empire.”

Obama said, “Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries.”

Not invited

Russia was suspended from what used to be the Group of Eight last year because of its occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Der Praesident des Europaeischen Rates, Donald Tusk, Japans Premierminister Shinzo Abe, Kanadas Premierminister Stephen Harper, US-Praesident Barack Obama, Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel, Frankreichs Staatspraesident Francois Hollande, Grossbritanniens Premierminister David Cameron, Italiens Ministerpraesident Matteo Renzi und der Praesident der Europaeischen Kommission, Jean-Claude Juncker (v.l.), stehen vor Schloss Elmau zu einem Familienfoto zusammen.

Der Praesident des Europaeischen Rates, Donald Tusk, Japans Premierminister Shinzo Abe, Kanadas Premierminister Stephen Harper, US-Praesident Barack Obama, Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel, Frankreichs Staatspraesident Francois Hollande, Grossbritanniens Premierminister David Cameron, Italiens Ministerpraesident Matteo Renzi und der Praesident der Europaeischen Kommission, Jean-Claude Juncker (v.l.), stehen vor Schloss Elmau zu einem Familienfoto zusammen.

The remaining G7 leaders pledged to increase support for Ukraine’s reform and economic growth efforts, but did not say anything about military aid, which some G7 nations provide on a bilateral basis.

John Hudson, a senior reporter with Foreign Policy Magazine, said U.S. officials met their goals of maintaining sanctions.

“They succeeded in convincing the Europeans that sanctions against Russia need to be extended,” he said. “These sanctions were set to expire, and there are a number of European countries, particularly Italy and Greece, who are a little bit skeptical about the need to keep sanctions in place.

“And, the U.S. effort to convince them that those [sanctions] are important seemed to win out at the end of the day with a statement that came out,” he said.

As to the issue of military aid to Ukraine, James Nixey, head of the Russia Eurasia Program at Chatham House in London, said the choice is complex.

“I think, in truth, it’s a very difficult decision no matter what decision you make,” he said. “There are very good arguments for and against supplying Kiev with weapons.

“The argument for…is that one needs to level the playing field for insurrection and aggression, that Ukrainian soldiers are dying and need our protection,” he said. “You can only give them protection by giving them both defensive and offensive weapons, which would actually limit the deaths of Ukraine’s forces.

“There is, however, a counter-argument – I’m not necessarily saying I maintain it myself but if we flood Ukraine with weapons, we risk ramping up the war to an uncontrollable scale,” he said.

Source: VOANews.com

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