LONDON, March 10, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia may be excluded from the Group of Eight if it refuses to cooperate on de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in the parliament on Monday, March 10.
He expressed hope, however, that this would not happen.
Speaking at a meeting of the EU heads of state or government on March 6, Cameron stressed that “illegal actions committed by Russia cannot pass without a response.”
The EU leaders agreed to suspend negotiations on a more liberal visa regime for Russians, to stop work on a comprehensive new agreement on relations between Russia and the EU, and to pull out of all preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi in June.
“And if Russia does not rapidly engage in direct talks with the Ukrainian government to find a solution to this crisis, we have been clear that we will go further,” Cameron warned, adding that the leaders had tasked the European Commission to start work on additional measures, including travel bans and asset freezes.
He noted that “situation in Ukraine remains highly precarious - the slightest miscalculation could see it spiral out of control” and issued “a very clear warning to President Putin that he must not destabilise the situation further.”
“If Russia does not change course, the statement issued today now makes clear that there will be severe and far reaching consequences in areas such an energy, trade, and financial relations,” he said.
On March 9, Putin had telephone conversations with Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“The conversations continued discussion on the highly complex social and political situation unfolding in Ukraine and also issues concerning the organisation of a referendum in Crimea on March 16, 2014. Although the three leaders did express differences of opinion regarding the events taking place, they declared their common interest in de-escalating tension and returning the situation to normal as soon as possible,” the presidential press service said.
Putin noted, in particular, that the steps Crimea’s legitimate authorities were taking were in line with international law and seek to guarantee the lawful interests of the peninsula’s population. The president also noted that the current authorities in Kiev had not taken any steps to rein in ultranationalist and radical forces in the Ukrainian capital and in many regions.
The three leaders exchanged views on possible international efforts to settle the crisis. They agreed to continue close working contacts, including at the foreign ministers’ level, the press service said.
Replying to questions from journalists on March 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was still preparing the G8 summit in Sochi scheduled for June. “We will be ready to host the summit with our colleagues. If they do not want to come - so be it,” he said.
He stressed that Russia’s actions were based on international law and bilateral obligations, unlike those of the United States which “always clearly formulates their own geopolitical and states interests and follow them with persistence… and draw the whole world in.”
When asked about possible sanctions from the West against Russia, Putin said that “It is primarily those who intend to apply them that need to consider their consequences.” The president stressed that “any threat against Russia is counterproductive and harmful.