PARIS/MOSCOW: France’s foreign minister on Tuesday said that leaders of the Group of Eight world powers have suspended Russia’s participation in the club amid tensions over Ukraine and Russia’s incursion into Crimea.
The other seven members of the group had already suspended preparations for a G8 summit that Russia is scheduled to host in June in Sochi.
France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius went further on Tuesday, saying on Europe-1 radio that “concerning the G8 … we decided to suspend Russia’s participation, and it is envisaged that all the other countries, the seven leading countries, will unite without Russia.” Fabius did not give further details.
The US and European Union on Tuesday announced new sanctions against Russia over its actions in the Crimean peninsula.
Reacting to the criticisms and actions by the west, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the west has “cheated Russia and crossed the line on Ukraine”.
Crimean referendum ‘happy event’
Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet president, has hailed Crimea’s vote to join Russia as a “happy event”.
Gorbachev said in remarks carried Tuesday by online newspaper Slon.ru that the vote offered the Crimean residents the freedom of choice and justly reflected their will.
He said that Sunday’s referendum showed that “people really wanted to return to Russia” and was a “happy event”.
Gorbachev added that the Crimean referendum has set an example for people in Russian-speaking in eastern Ukraine, who also should decide their fate.
Gorbachev, who resigned as the Soviet president on Christmas Day 1991, has voiced regret that he was unable to stem the Soviet Union’s collapse.
He has criticized Putin’s authoritarian policy, but said on Tuesday that he supports his course in the Ukrainian crisis.