G7 leaders and top EU officials met on the margins of a summit on nuclear security in the Dutch capital (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)
BRUSSELS – The G7 club of wealthy nations has cancelled a summit with Russia over its annexation of Crimea, but emerging economies have protested against its exclusion from a G20 meeting.
The G7 leaders – from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the US – announced the move in a communique published after their meeting in The Hague on Monday (24 March). The June summit, which was to be held in the G8 format with Russia in Sochi, on the Black Sea coast, will now be held in Brussels.
The communique said Russia’s actions “are not consistent” with the G7’s “shared beliefs” and that they will “suspend” the G8 “until Russia changes course”. It also said G7 states “remain ready to intensify actions, including co-ordinated sectoral sanctions … if Russia continues to escalate this situation”.
For its part, US ally Australia had indicated Russia might also be excluded from a G20 summit in Brisbane in November. But Brazil, China, India, and South Africa rejected the idea. They said, together with Russia, also at The Hague, where almost 60 countries had sent VIPs to a Nuclear Security Summit, that “the escalation of hostile language, sanctions and counter-sanctions … does not contribute to a sustainable and peaceful solution” to the Ukraine crisis.
“The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all member states equally and no one member state can unilaterally determine its nature.” With Brazil and China now wealthier than some G7 countries, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov noted the G7 has lost its monopoly on global governance.
“If our Western partners believe this format [G8] has exhausted itself, let it be. We are not clinging to it. As an experiment, we can wait a year or a year and a half and see how we live without it,” he said.
Lavrov in The Hague met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Andrey Deshchytsia, for the first time since the crisis began. But he did not agree to launch bilateral talks to resolve the dispute, as demanded by the EU and US.
He noted only that Ukraine must undertake unspecified “constitutional reforms” and repeated the Kremlin line that Ukraine’s revolution is a form of Western expansionism.
Meanwhile, Ukraine circulated a draft UN General Assembly resolution which says Crimea’s recent referendum on secession has “no validity”. It got backing from UN head Ban Ki Moon, who said Russia’s violation of the Budapest memorandum – a 1994 treaty giving Ukraine security guarantees in return for nuclear disarmament – has “profound” implications “both for regional security and the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime”.
Russia on Monday also hit back at Western sanctions by blacklisting 13 Canadians. It has mocked EU and US blacklists and economic threats. But its own deputy economy minister, Andrei Klepach, on Monday forecast that Russia’s first quarter economic growth will be zero and that $70 billion of capital will leave the country in developments he linked to “worsening of relations”.
Russia’s state-owned Sberbank the same day said capital flight could reach $100 billion.