Updated March. 26, 2014 02:08
In the wake of Russias annexation of Ukraines Crimean Peninsula, the leaders of the G7 countries have agreed to exclude Russia from the international body of G8 countries. They also adopted the Hague Declaration that calls for additional economic sanctions against Russia and economic aid to Ukraine.
Attending the third Nuclear Security Summit held in the Hague, the Netherlands, the leaders of G7 countries namely, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, held separate 90-minute talks and discussed the Ukraine crisis. In a statement issued soon after their meeting, the leaders said they will deny Russias attendance at the G8 summit until Russia changes its Ukraine strategy, and cancel the G8 Summit scheduled in Sochi, Russia in June this year. Instead, the leaders agreed that they will hold during the same period a G7 summit in Brussels, Belgium, where the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations are located.
Russia strongly blasted the move, saying that we have no desire regarding the G8 regime itself. At a press conference held in The Hague on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, If our Western partners believe the format has exhausted itself, we don`t cling to this format, adding, The G8 is an informal club. No one hands out membership cards and no one can be kicked out of it.
The G7 leaders also discussed ways to expand financial assistance to the interim government of Ukraine. They agreed that if Russian President Vladimir Putin takes further actions to southeastern regions of Ukraine, they will impose additional sanctions of energy, finance and national defense against Russia.
Separately, the U.S. disclosed a measure to pressure Russia, which uses export of natural gas as its weapons. The U.S. issued additional permission on Monday to allow for export of its liquefied natural gas to foreign countries. The U.S. Department of Energy said on the day that it issued conditional approval that would allow the Jordan Cove Energy Project that involves investment worth a total of 7 billion U.S. dollars to export its LNG also to countries that have not signed a free trade agreement with the U.S. The Associated Press reported that if final approval is made, the U.S. can export natural gas from the Rocky Mountains and Canada up to 22.66 million liters per day for 20 years through an LNG terminal, which is under construction in Coos Bay in the state of Oregon. If Europe imports this natural gas supply, it can reduce its dependence on Russian import. However, since the measure will require environmental review and final approval from regulatory authorities in the U.S., it will likely take years before export actually begins.
The Financial Times of the U.K. forecasted on Monday that foreign investments that will exit from Russia in the first quarter of this year as much as 70 billion dollars. Russian Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach expressed concern on the day, saying that capital flight will reach 65 billion dollars to 70 billion dollars in the first quarter, which the government had forecast. He also said that this years economic growth rate could remain at zero. Russias capital flight in the first quarter has already exceeded 63 billion collars, which is equivalent to the entire capital flight posted last year.
Emerging economies (BRICs or Brazil, Russia, India and China) with different views from those of the G7 and the EU are opposed to sanctions against Russia, and have adopted a communiqué urging a resolution of the crisis through the U.N. BRICs and South Africa said in their statement, The escalation of hostile language, sanctions and counter-sanctions, and force does not contribute to a sustainable and peaceful solution.