LEADERS of the G7 have kept up their rhetoric against Russia,
and are threatening to impose further sanctions unless the Russian
President, Vladimir Putin, takes action to bring stability to
In a communiqué, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
Japan, the United States, and the UK, along with the presidents of
the European Commission and EU Council, speak of the "unacceptable
interference in Ukraine's sovereign affairs by the Russian
Federation", and call on the "illegal armed groups to disarm."
"We are united in condemning the Russian Federation's continuing
violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,"
they say. "Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, and actions to
destabilise eastern Ukraine are unacceptable and must stop. These
actions violate fundamental principles of international law, and
should be a concern for all nations."
In the communiqué the leaders called for the complete withdrawal
of Russian military forces from the border with Ukraine, and urged
Russia to "stop the flow of weapons and militants across the
border". Russia should "exercise its influence among armed
separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence".
They warn that: "We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions
and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to
impose further costs on Russia, should events so require."
But the communiqué also had a positive tone, welcoming last
month's election of the new Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko,
who is due to be sworn in tomorrow.
Mr Poroshenko is expected to meet President Putin at Normandy
today, during celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the
D-Day landings, although there are no formal plans for the two men
The decision to invite President Putin to the commemorations has
caused controversy. Simon Heffer, writing in the Daily
Mail, typified the criticisms when he said: "Russia may have
been our ally in 1944, but its troops were not in this particular
theatre of war, and to have Putin there at a time when he is
violating all the values for which those heroes fought and died is
But the French President, François Hollande, defended his
decision to invite the Russian leader, saying that he had consulted
Western allies before doing so. "We know what we owe to the Russian
people - or, more precisely, to the Soviet people - at that time,"
he said. "This is why President Putin needed to be present. . . The
victory against the Nazi barbarism has been possible thanks to the
landing, thanks to the will of the Allied countries, and by the
The decision was supported by the US President, Barack Obama,
who said: "It is entirely appropriate that he is there to
commemorate D-Day, given the extraordinary sacrifices that were
given by the people of the Soviet Union in World War Two."
President Obama made his comments at a joint press conference
with his "great friend and partner" David Cameron.
President Putin, he said, had the "chance to get back into the
lane of international law", and the inauguration of President-Elect
Poroshenko was an "opportunity" that "Russia needs to seize".
He went on: "Like many Ukrainians, [Poroshenko] wants to forge
closer ties with Europe and the United States, but he also
recognises that Ukraine will benefit from a constructive
relationship with Russia."
Mr Cameron echoed the message, saying: "From the outset of this
crisis, the G7 leaders have been united, clear in our support for
the Ukrainian people and their right to choose their own future;
and firm in our message to President Putin that Russia's actions
are completely unacceptable and totally at odds with the values of
this group of democracies.
"That is why Russia no longer has a seat at the table here with
The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has
confirmed that, after the election of Mr Poroshenko, the EU will
sign the remaining chapters of a security and association agreement
with Ukraine by the end of this month.
The political chapters of the agreement were signed on 21 March
(News, 21 March). Similar agreements with Georgia and Moldova will
be signed on 27 June, in the presence of all 28 EU heads of state
Last night, the leaders of the G7 travelled to Paris for a
series of bilateral meetings with other world leaders ahead of
today's commemorative events in Normandy.
"David and I agree that whenever our two nations stand together,
it can lead a world that is more secure, more prosperous, and more
just; and we will be reminded of that . . . in Normandy, when we
mark the 70thanniversary of D-Day," President Obama said.
"On that day, as on so many others, American and British troops
stood together and fought valiantly alongside our allies.
"They didn't just help to end the war, they helped to turn the
tide of human history, and are the reason we can stand here today
in a free Europe and with the freedoms our nations enjoy. Theirs is
the legacy that our two nations and our great alliance continue to
Mr Cameron said: "As we stand together in Europe on the 70th
anniversary of the D-Day landings, we should remind the world of
the strength and steadfastness of the bond between the United
Kingdom and the United States. Seventy years ago . . . our
countries stood like two rocks of freedom and democracy in the face
of Nazi tyranny.
"Seventy years ago . . . thousands of British and American
soldiers, with their Canadian and Free French counterparts, were
preparing to cross the Channel in the greatest liberation force
that the world has ever known.
"Those young men were united in purpose to restore democracy and
freedom to continental Europe - to free, by force of arms, ancient
European nations, and to allow the nations and peoples of Europe to
chart their destinies in the world.
"Thousands of those young men paid the ultimate price, and we
honour their memory."