Politics & Government

G7: Russia could face more sanctions if it doesn’t back off in Ukraine

Russia faces continued and possibly increased economic sanctions if it continues military actions in Ukraine, the G-7 nations are warning.

Both President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored that resolve Monday as they wrapped up a two-day meeting of the world’s seven top economic powers in southern Germany.

Obama said Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, had to accept that “Russian actions are hurting Russia,” and that the international will to maintain sanctions against Russia is not wavering.

Ukrainians have worried in recent months that Russian actions – and in particular the 2014 Russian seizure of Crimea – were being overlooked by the global community as the war in their southeastern provinces (known as Donbas) drags on. But the official summit statement noted: “We reiterate our condemnation of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation and reaffirm our policy of its non-recognition.”

Russia and Ukraine were one of many focuses of the summit, which had been dubbed “the crises summit” by some for the number of pressing issues facing the leaders of the United States, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Merkel’s hosting of the summit at the picturesque Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps was noted by German media as an attempt to add harmony and hope to the whirlwind gathering. The region of southern Germany is noted for its fairytale castles and fantasy landscapes.

In her closing remarks, she noted that the leaders had committed “to decarbonize the global economy by the end of the century,” meaning eliminate the use of fossil fuels. In the more immediate term, she also touched on another focus of the summit: what to do about Greece, which after years of international bailouts and plans remains in financial crisis.

“We want Greece to remain part of the euro zone,” Merkel said, but she added that there isn’t much time left to make sure that would be possible. “Every day now counts in order to finally get the work required done.”

And during his wrapup remarks Monday afternoon, Obama addressed the other pressing Western threat, the Islamic State’s attacks in Iraq and Syria.

Obama noted that while significant progress had been made, there were also instances where the Islamic State had been pushed back in one region but popped up in another.

“They’re nimble and aggressive,” he said. He noted that the primary focus in dealing with the organization that developed from the former al Qaeda in Iraq would require speeding up the training of Iraqi soldiers, and in particular, the training of Sunni tribesmen who have had some success in combating the terrorist organization.

But while he noted a need for speed, Obama added that combating the group required American and Iraqi coordination, and that there is not yet a plan on how to go about that.

Thousands of protesters turned out to make loud, and often very general, statements against war, capitalism and world hunger. They also complained about the cost of the G-7 gathering, estimated to have a bill of about 150 million euro, or $170 million.

Those costs included 17,000 German police, who spent the weekend chasing protesters in and around the forests and meadows of the Alps, trying to keep them outside the perimeter fencing put up to protect the leaders. German animal rights activists protested their annoyance that officials didn’t consult them on how the fencing was constructed, as they believed it should have included open gateways when crossing established deer trails. Officials responded that open gates defeat the point of the fence.

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