Saturday 27 December 2014

Britain pulls out of talks ahead of G8 summit over Ukraine

Published 02/03/2014 | 14:20

Foreign Secretary William Hague, left, talks with Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius before the EU foreign ministers meeting on Ukraine (AP)
William Hague said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine had been "violated"
Soldiers of the armed forces of Ukraine walk near the general staff headquarters in Sevastopol (AP)
An unidentified armed man guards the gate of Ukraine's infantry base in Privolnoye, Ukraine (AP)
Anti-Yanukovych protesters warm themselves next to a fire as they guard one of the entrances in Kiev's Independence Square (AP)
People hold photos of their relatives killed during recent clashes at a rally in Kiev's Independence Square (AP)
A Russian convoy moves from Sevastopol to Sinferopol in the Crimea, Ukraine (AP)
People gather during a rally in Kiev's Independence Square (AP)
Ukrainian soldiers guard a gate of an infantry base in Privolnoye, Ukraine (AP)
Orthodox monks pray near an armed serviceman in a Russian army vehicle outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014. Ukraine accused Russia on Saturday of sending thousands of extra troops to Crimea and placed its military in the area on high alert as the Black Sea peninsula appeared to slip beyond Kiev's control. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Britain has pulled out of preparatory talks due to be held in the coming days for the G8 summit in Sochi over Russia's decision to take military action in Ukraine.

William Hague said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine had been "violated" and called for Moscow to speak directly to the nation's new leaders.

Pressure is mounting on Vladimir Putin after Russia yesterday authorised the use of troops, but so far the president has ignored the widespread international condemnation of his country's aggression.

The Foreign Secretary was due to attend discussions in the Black Sea resort paving the way for the June summit but the UK is now suspending its cooperation with the process.

Speaking from RAF Northolt as he was about to board a plane to Kiev, he said: "We have to recognise the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated and this cannot be the way to conduct international affairs and so, in addition to calling yesterday's emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, the United Kingdom will join other G8 countries this week in suspending our cooperation under the G8, which Russia chairs this year, including the meetings this week for the preparation of the G8 summit.

"We will keep our approach to further G8 meetings under review."

 

Ukraine's new prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called on the Russian premier to pull back his troops, warning "we are on the brink of disaster" while Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Moscow to calm the "dangerous" situation.

 

Mr Hague, who will meet Ukraine's interim leaders in the country's capital, added: "I think we will see increasingly over the coming days the very strong concerns of the world by many, many nations and I hope that that direct communication between the two countries will be able to take place.

 

"Our response is diplomatic and peaceful and it should be. That is our response but it will be a very united diplomatic response and not just from the Western world, I think, but from many other countries in the world and that is something that Russia will have to think hard about."

 

Mr Hague said Ukraine had previously insisted it would not escalate the situation and he would urge them to hold that position during today's talks.

 

"It very much remains our view that they should not rise to provocations, they should not feed the tensions and so we call on both sides to ensure that there can be a reduction in tensions and the avoidance of conflict."

 

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