UK & World News

  • 25 March 2014, 0:17

Ukraine: 'No G8 Summit In Russia' Over Crisis

G7 leaders have agreed not to attend a planned summit in Russia and insisted it must "change course" over Ukraine after an emergency meeting.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama warned Vladimir Putin that Russia would face further sanctions if forces move further into Ukraine, following reports troops were massing near the border.

The G7 - the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Japan - agreed to hold its own summit in Brussels in June instead of attending the G8 in Sochi.

In a statement following the meeting in The Hague, they said participating in the G8would not continue "until Russia changes course".

The meeting was also expected to discuss possible responses to Russian actions in Ukraine as well as concerns that Moscow could be looking to extend its control beyond Crimea.

Preparations for the summit in Sochi had already been suspended as a result of Russia's actions in Ukraine.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the move was a "huge blow" for the G8 and President Obama said it would be "hard to revive that in the immediate future".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his Ukrainian counterpart on the sidelines of a nuclear summit at The Hague, according to the Russian foreign ministry.

It posted a photograph of Mr Lavrov meeting interim Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya for the first time since Russian troops moved into Crimea.

But Mr Lavrovsaid it was no problem for Russia if the G8 does not meet.

He said: "If our Western partners believe the format has exhausted itself, we don't cling to this format.

"We don't believe it will be a big problem if it doesn't convene."

On Monday, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry was told to pull all its forces from Crimea as Russian troops extended their control over the disputed territory.

Speaking in parliament, acting president Oleksandr Turchynov said the decision was taken in the face of "threats to the lives and health of our service personnel".

He said: "The National Defence and Security Council has instructed the Defence Ministry to carry out a re-deployment of military units in Crimea and carry out the evacuation of their families."

Russian troops, backed by helicopters and armoured personnel carriers, forced their way into the base in Feodosia in the early hours of Monday morning.

Ukrainian defence ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said: "The invading troops were using stun grenades and also firing automatic weapons... The interior of the compound is full of Russian troops."

In a statement on his Facebook page, Mr Seleznyov added that paratroopers descended into the base from four helicopters hovering above.

He said three Russian vehicles were then seen leaving the base with Ukrainian marines whose hands had been tied up.

Ukrainian army officer, First Lieutenant Anatoly Mozgovoy, confirmed shots were fired at unarmed Ukrainian soldiers during the seizure, however there are currently no reports of any injuries.

The Feodosia base had been one of the last few military facilities still flying Ukrainian flags after Russia's annexation of Crimea. Those flags have now reportedly been removed.

Nato's top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, has warned that Russia's military force massing on Ukraine's border was "very, very sizeable and very, very ready".

He said he was worried the Russian military could make a move for Moldova's breakaway Transdniestria region.

Transdniestria, a narrow strip of land to Ukraine's southwest, already has a Russian military presence and most people there favour a union with the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week signed papers making Crimea part of Russia, saying it was complying with international agreements and had no plans to invade.

It has also called the soldiers who took over Ukrainian bases in Crimea "self-defence forces".

On Monday ex-Chief of the General Staff Lord Dannatt said Western "weakness" had allowed Putin to "become bold on his own fringes" and seize the region.

He called for heightened military spending in the UK and as well as tougher sanctions against Russia.

The US and European Union have already targeted some of Mr Putin's closest political and business allies with personal sanctions and have threatened broader economic sanctions if his forces encroach on other parts of Ukraine with large Russian-speaking populations.

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