Ukraine crisis: Canada threatens to join US in snubbing G8 summit in Russia

Barack Obama has asked Vladimir Putin to pull his forces back to bases in Crimea.

Washington | Updated: March 2, 2014 12:14:58 pm
Russian parliament's decision to give Putin the green light to send troops into neighboring Ukraine triggered international outcry. (AP Photo) Russian parliament’s decision to give Putin the green light to send troops into neighboring Ukraine triggered international outcry. (AP Photo)

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened he may join Washington in snubbing June’s G8 summit in Russia over the country’s military incursion into Ukraine, and recalled his ambassador to Moscow.

The Russian parliament’s decision to give Putin the green light to send troops into neighboring Ukraine triggered international outcry.

“We join our allies in condemning in the strongest terms President Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine,” Harper said in a statement yesterday.

“These actions are a clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They are also in violation of Russia’s obligations under international law.”

US officials have warned that President Barack Obama and other European leaders were unlikely to show up at the G8 summit in the showcase Black Sea resort of Sochi if the Ukraine crisis was not resolved.

US accuses Russia of military ‘invasion’

Accusing Russia of carrying out a military “invasion” in Ukraine, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that it will have “profound” effect on US-Russia ties.

“The United States condemns the Russian Federation’s invasion and occupation of the Ukrainian territory, and its violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity in full contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum,” Kerry said.

“Unless immediate and concrete steps are taken by Russia to deescalate tensions, the effect on US-Russian relations and on Russia’s international standing will be profound,” Kerry said in a statement yesterday.

Ukraine asks UN council to stop Russian ‘aggression’

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations asked an emergency session of the Security Council on Saturday “to do everything possible now” to stop Russia’s “aggression” as its troops took over the strategic Crimea region.

But action by the UN’s most powerful body appears unlikely. As a permanent member, Russia has veto power and can block the council from adopting any resolution criticizing or sanctioning Moscow.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call to “urgently engage in direct dialogue with the authorities” in Kiev.

Russia has ‘right’ to protect interests: Putin

Russia has the right to “protect its interests and Russian-speaking populations” in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has told his US counterpart Barack Obama.

Putin told Obama there was a “real threat weighing on the lives and the health of Russian citizens” in Ukraine, according to a Kremlin statement.

The Russian president accused the new government in Kiev of supporting “criminal actions by ultranationalists”, the Kremlin said.

US calls on Russia to withdraw forces

US President Barack Obama has called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to “deescalate” tensions in Ukraine and asked him to pull his forces back to bases in Crimea.

“The US calls on Russia to deescalate tensions by withdrawing its forces back to bases in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement on Saturday.

“Obama told Putin that, if Russia has concerns about the treatment of ethnic Russian and minority populations in Ukraine, the appropriate way to address them is peacefully through direct engagement with the government of Ukraine and through the dispatch of international observers under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),” the White House said.

The United States is prepared to participate, the statement said.

Obama spoke with Putin for 90 minutes, during which “President expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the White House said.

Obama told Putin that his actions were a “breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement withUkraine.”

“We have consistently said that we recognise Russia’s deep historic and cultural ties to Ukraine and the need to protect the rights of ethnic Russian and minority populations within Ukraine,” the White House said.

“The Ukrainian government has made clear its commitment to protect the rights of all Ukrainians and to abide by Ukraine’s
international commitments, and we will continue to urge them to do so,” it said.

“In the coming hours and days, the United States will urgently consult with allies and partners in the UN Security Council, the North Atlantic Council, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and with the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum,” the White House said.

US may withdraw from G-8

“The US will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8. Going forward, Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation,” it said.

The White House said Obama has directed his Administration to continue working urgently with international “partners” to provide support for the Ukrainian government, including urgent technical and “financial” assistance.

On Saturday, Obama also spoke separately with French President Francois Hollande and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“The leaders agreed that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, and expressed their grave concern over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.

The leaders affirmed the importance of unity within the international community in support of international law, and the future of Ukraine and its democracy, it said.

(With inputs from AP, PTI, AFP)

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