The Hague: Seeking to intensify pressure on Moscow, western powers sought today to isolate Russia over its actions in Ukraine, insisting that a planned summit of leading economic powers to be hosted by Vladimir Putin would not go forward.
World leaders gathering in the Netherlands were angling for ways to prove Russia would face increasing estrangement from the powerful Group of Eight world powers unless it changes course in Ukraine. British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a summit scheduled for June in Sochi was now off the table, while the United States warned that Russia`s global standing would continue to deteriorate as the West sought to present a united front against Putin.
"As long as the political environment for the G-8 is not there, as at the moment, there is no G-8 - neither as a concrete summit nor as a format," Merkel said.
Leaders of the reconstituted Group of Seven - Russia excluded - huddled in an emergency meeting at the Dutch prime minister`s residence to plot a path forward. President Barack Obama`s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said the session was aimed at foreshadowing "what economic sanctions Russia will be faced with if it continues down this course."
He said the countries also would discuss assistance for the fledgling Ukrainian government. As long as Putin keeps "flagrantly violating international law," there`s no reason for the G-7 to engage with Russia, Rhodes said. At the same time, he suggested that the US and other nations were not prepared to formally kick Russia out of the G-8.
"The door is open to Russia to deescalate the situation," Rhodes said.
The delicate diplomacy took place on the sidelines of a long-planned nuclear security summit in The Hague, where the official topic - nuclear terrorism - was quickly overshadowed by the West`s alarm over Russia`s move to annex the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.