Hit or Miss: World leaders exclude Russia and meet as the G7

For the first time since Russia was brought into the group in 1998, leaders from the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan met in The Hague as the G7.

G8: now the G7
G8: now the G7

The leaders issued a joint statement, under the title of the Hague Declaration, reaffirming support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and saying they would not attend a planned G8 summit in Sochi in June but would instead meet without Russia in Brussels.

The group's foreign ministers will also boycott a planned G8 meeting in Moscow in April.

How I See It

Gavin Devine, chief executive, MHP Communications

The decision to cancel this year’s G8 meeting in Russia is a hit.

The modern world of politics and diplomacy is built on principles that Russia has blatantly ignored through its actions in Crimea and its attitude towards Ukraine.

Letting Russia host a Potemkin summit after what it has done in the past few weeks would have been a sham. Suspension from the G8 and cancellation of the meeting in Russia at last sends a signal that Moscow’s actions do have repercussions.

However, this is a single ‘hit’ in a sea of ‘misses’. So far the vaunted principles of the Western democracies at times seem to have been secondary to self-interest – for example, in cheap gas or in oligarch money.

It only involves a little hyperbole to point out the parallels with the 1930s: letting Russia get away with this will have long-term consequences.

Western leaders need to do more than send a gesture, cancelling a trip to the seaside in Sochi. They must take real, painful, measures that will make Russia and others think twice about blatantly breaking international rules of behaviour.

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