The G-8 is once again to become the G-7.
Leaders of the so-called Group of Eight announced on Monday they would cancel their planned June meeting in Sochi, Russia, and suspend their participation in the international group, following Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and threats toward eastern Ukraine.
The smaller group announced its plans in a joint statement after meeting in the Netherlands. Instead, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. will meet with E.U. leaders in Brussels as the G-7, in the latest blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
U.S. President Barack Obama convened a meeting of the G-7 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at the Hague, with the goal of increasing pressure on Russia following its actions in Ukraine. The G-7 nations had previously suspended preparations for the Sochi conference following Russia's takeover of Crimea.
"Our view is simply that as long as Russia is flagrantly violating international law and the order the G-7 has helped to build since the end of the Cold War, there’s no need for the G-7 to engage with Russia," deputy National Security Adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes told reporters on Monday before the meeting.
"This group came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities," the leaders said in the joint statement, titled "The Hague Declaration." "Russia’s actions in recent weeks are not consistent with them. Under these circumstances, we will not participate in the planned Sochi summit. We will suspend our participation in the G-8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion."
The decision to cancel the conference comes after Western powers imposed strict sanctions on Russian government officials and business leaders for their involvement in supporting the Russian action in Ukraine. In the statement, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to imposing additional sanctions, including sanctions targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, if the situation escalates further.
Earlier on Monday, Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss a wide range of issues including Ukraine. Rhodes indicated that China will not support international sanctions efforts. "I think we would find it as a constructive step for them to continue to refrain from supporting Russia’s action, and to speaking out for the principle of the rule of law, international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," he said.
The G-8 traces its roots to the G-6 organized by France in 1975, becoming the G-7 with the addition of Canada. Russia was first invited to join in 1998. The full declaration reads as follows:
THE HAGUE DECLARATION
The Hague, The Netherlands
March 24, 2014
1. We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission met in The Hague to reaffirm our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
2. International law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force. To do so violates the principles upon which the international system is built. We condemn the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution. We also strongly condemn Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea in contravention of international law and specific international obligations. We do not recognize either.
3. Today, we reaffirm that Russia’s actions will have significant consequences. This clear violation of international law is a serious challenge to the rule of law around the world and should be a concern for all nations. In response to Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to demonstrate our determination to respond to these illegal actions, individually and collectively we have imposed a variety of sanctions against Russia and those individuals and entities responsible. We remain ready to intensify actions including coordinated sectoral sanctions that will have an increasingly significant impact on the Russian economy, if Russia continues to escalate this situation.
4. We remind Russia of its international obligations, and its responsibilities including those for the world economy. Russia has a clear choice to make. Diplomatic avenues to de-escalate the situation remain open, and we encourage the Russian Government to take them. Russia must respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, begin discussions with the Government of Ukraine, and avail itself of offers of international mediation and monitoring to address any legitimate concerns.
5. The Russian Federation’s support for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine is a step in the right direction. We look forward to the mission’s early deployment, in order to facilitate the dialogue on the ground, reduce tensions and promote normalization of the situation, and we call on all parties to ensure that Special Monitoring Mission members have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine to fulfill their mandate.
6. This Group came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities. Russia’s actions in recent weeks are not consistent with them. Under these circumstances, we will not participate in the planned Sochi Summit. We will suspend our participation in the G-8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion and will meet again in G-7 format at the same time as planned, in June 2014, in Brussels, to discuss the broad agenda we have together. We have also advised our Foreign Ministers not to attend the April meeting in Moscow. In addition, we have decided that G-7 Energy Ministers will meet to discuss ways to strengthen our collective energy security.
7. At the same time, we stand firm in our support for the people of Ukraine who seek to restore unity, democracy, political stability, and economic prosperity to their country. We commend the Ukrainian government’s ambitious reform agenda and will support its implementation as Ukraine seeks to start a new chapter in its history, grounded on a broad-based constitutional reform, free and fair presidential elections in May, promotion of human rights and respect of national minorities.
8. The International Monetary Fund has a central role leading the international effort to support Ukrainian reform, lessening Ukraine's economic vulnerabilities, and better integrating the country as a market economy in the multilateral system. We strongly support the IMF's work with the Ukrainian authorities and urge them to reach a rapid conclusion. IMF support will be critical in unlocking additional assistance from the World Bank, other international financial institutions, the EU, and bilateral sources. We remain united in our commitment to provide strong financial backing to Ukraine, to co-ordinate our technical assistance, and to provide assistance in other areas, including measures to enhance trade and strengthen energy security.