The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
G-7 leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine and stand united in support of the efforts of the people of Ukraine to build a deeper and stronger democracy that accommodates the rights and aspirations of all people in all regions of Ukraine. Despite violence and intimidation, strong voter turnout for the May 25 presidential election underscores the determination of Ukraine’s citizens to determine the future of their country. Against this backdrop, G-7 leaders discussed their commitment to support Ukraine as it works to unite the country and transition to an inclusive democracy and prosperous market-driven economy and their determination to raise the cost for Russia of continued actions to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Response to Russian Actions
G-7 leaders also agreed that coordinated actions must continue to raise the cost of Russia’s unacceptable interference in Ukraine, including the occupation of Crimea in violation of international law and the ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine’s east and south. G-7 leaders have taken a number of steps to impose economic costs on Russia and committed to take further intensified measures if needed. Specifically, all G-7 members have:
· Imposed sanctions on individuals and entities who have actively supported or implemented the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity or who are threatening the peace, security, and stability of Ukraine.
· Committed to supporting a diplomatic solution and called on Russia to fulfill the commitments it made in the Geneva Joint Statement to pursue a diplomatic path and cooperation with the government of Ukraine as it implements it plans for promoting peace, unity, and reform.
· Called on Russia to recognize the results of the Ukrainian election, complete the withdrawal of its military forces on the border with Ukraine, stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border, and exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence.
· Affirmed their readiness to intensify targeted sanctions and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia if necessary.
Krasny Liman, Ukraine - The Ukrainian army is carrying out a clean-up operation in parts of Krasny Liman near the embattled city of Slovyansk a day after shelling rocked the town in the east of the country.
While government troops refused to clarify who they were fighting in the town, more than 50 pro-Russian rebels were stationed in the woods nearby on Wednesday, reportedly manning positions on the edge of the town.
Though townspeople said that shelling - which began on Tuesday morning - claimed several victims, a nurse was only able to confirm that two civilians were wounded during an army attack on a nearby rebel checkpoint along a road heading through heavy forest into Slovyansk, about 18km southeast of Krasny Liman.
On Wednesday, the northern section of Krasny Liman was quiet despite a growing sense of dread among the residents. A group of men outside a grocery expressed shock and anger, saying they could not understand why the army had shelled their town.
'Brother against brother'
"This is brother against brother," said Dima, who had bought bread and was heading home to prepare his basement as a shelter for his wife and three young children.
"It doesn't make any sense. Why would they shoot into a town full of civilians?" he said, adding that the pro-Russian rebels had only set up barricades a little more than a week ago in the town.
The town bore tell-tale signs of the shelling. A bread factory had a large hole blasted through its front wall. Nearby, a house was still smoldering after a direct artillery hit. The family had left just hours before to stay with relatives.
Around the corner, Krasny Liman resident Igor Chugay was preparing his basement as a bunker. Last night he drove his wife and children to Svyatagorsk to escape the fighting.
Although the Ukrainian army would not let journalists into the southern section of town, a road leading away from the centre towards Slovyansk showed the carnage wrought after the Ukrainian army rolled through a rebel checkpoint on Tuesday.
Half a dozen burnt-out vehicles were scattered along the road. Tanks or armoured personnel carriers had rolled through the series of checkpoints, shooting as they went. Thousands of brass casings littered the road ranging from 30mm light canon to heavy machine-gun and assault rifle ammunition.
Trees along the roadside in this no man's land had been splintered and knocked down by the heavy fire and the two-storey train station of Brusinye in the forest had a gaping hole blown in its centre, caused by an air strike.
Down the road through the woods, the heavy thump of continuous and heavy artillery fire could be heard coming from the direction of Slovyansk about 10km away.
Criticized at home for a lack of initiative on Ukraine, French President Francois Hollande will hold separate dinners on Thursday with the U.S. and Russian leaders in an attempt to unlock Europe's worst security crisis since the Cold War.
His aim is to orchestrate an ice-breaking first meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko on French soil, diplomats said, despite continued fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
French officials have gone to elaborate lengths to keep U.S. President Barack Obama and Putin apart in Paris, at Washington's request, before Friday's 70th anniversary commemorations of the allied D-Day landings in World War Two, which will see 18 world leaders descend on the Normandy beaches.
The French capital goes into security lockdown from mid-afternoon when Obama and Putin fly in, while Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives by train from London to begin a three-day state visit, her fifth since taking the throne in 1953.
"What's at stake is Ukraine, it is stability and it is security," Hollande told reporters on Wednesday. "France is welcoming the world on June 5 and 6 so it gives us a specific responsibility."
Putin said on Wednesday he was willing to meet Obama in France, but the U.S. leader has so far shunned the opportunity, leaving Hollande to shuttle between the two men. The U.S. and Russian foreign ministers, however, will meet on Thursday.
Underscoring the sensitivities, Hollande will rush from meeting the Queen at his Elysee Palace to a chic restaurant overlooking the Champs-Elysees avenue to dine with Obama before going back to his residence for a late supper with Putin.
Hollande has spent much of the week, first in Poland and then in Brussels at a Group of Seven summit, trying to create a diplomatic opening on Ukraine after sending Poroshenko a last-minute invitation to the D-Day ceremonies. Ukrainians fought in the Soviet Red Army that defeated Nazi Germany.
French diplomats say Hollande, who met Poroshenko in Poland on Wednesday, wants at the very least to get Putin and the Ukrainian to shake hands at a closed-door lunch of leaders on Friday at the 18th century Chateau de Benouville, where rooms are ready for bilateral meetings.
This, they say, would be a tacit acknowledgement that the Russian leader recognizes Poroshenko's legitimacy, the day before he is sworn in, opening the door for dialogue.
In an apparent signal of recognition, Russia's deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, said Moscow's ambassador to Ukraine would attend Poroshenko's inauguration.
- We welcome the successful conduct under difficult circumstances of the election in Ukraine on 25 May. The strong voter turnout underlined the determination of Ukraine’s citizens to determine the future of their country. We welcome Petro Poroshenko as the President-elect of Ukraine and commend him for reaching out to all the people of Ukraine.
- In the face of unacceptable interference in Ukraine’s sovereign affairs by the Russian Federation, we stand by the Ukrainian government and people. We call upon the illegal armed groups to disarm. We encourage the Ukrainian authorities to maintain a measured approach in pursuing operations to restore law and order. We fully support the substantial contribution made by the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to the de-escalation of the crisis through the Special Monitoring Mission and other OSCE instruments. We commend the willingness of the Ukrainian authorities to continue the national dialogue in an inclusive manner. We welcome the "Memorandum of Peace and Unity" adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on 20 May and express the wish that it can be implemented rapidly. We also encourage the Ukrainian parliament and the Government of Ukraine to continue to pursue constitutional reform in order to provide a framework for deepening and strengthening democracy and accommodating the rights and aspirations of all people in all regions of Ukraine.
- The G-7 are committed to continuing to work with Ukraine to support its economic development, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We encourage the fulfilment of Ukraine's commitment to pursue the difficult reforms that will be crucial to support economic stability and unlock private sector-led growth. We welcome the decision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a $17 billion programme for Ukraine, which will anchor other bilateral and multilateral assistance and loans, including around $18 billion foreseen to date from G-7 partners. We welcome the swift disbursement of macro-economic support for Ukraine. We support an international donor coordination mechanism to ensure effective delivery of economic assistance and we welcome the EU’s intention to hold a high-level coordination meeting in Brussels. We welcome ongoing efforts to diversify Ukraine's sources of gas, including through recent steps in the EU towards enabling reverse gas flow capacities and look forward to the successful conclusion of the talks, facilitated by the European Commission, on gas transit and supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine.
- We are united in condemning the Russian Federation’s continuing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and actions to de-stabilize eastern Ukraine are unacceptable and must stop. These actions violate fundamental principles of international law and should be a concern for all nations. We urge the Russian Federation to recognize the results of the election, complete the withdrawal of its military forces on the border with Ukraine, stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border and to exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence. We call on the Russian Federation to meet the commitments it made in the Geneva Joint Statement and cooperate with the government of Ukraine as it implements its plans for promoting peace, unity and reform.
- We confirm the decision by G-7 countries to impose sanctions on individuals and entities who have actively supported or implemented the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and who are threatening the peace, security and stability of Ukraine. We are implementing a strict policy of non-recognition with respect to Crimea/Sevastopol, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262. We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia should events so require.
- The projects funded by the donor community to convert the Chernobyl site into a stable and environmentally safe condition have reached an advanced stage of completion. While recognizing the complexity of these first of a kind projects, we call upon all concerned parties to make an additional effort to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion and call upon project parties to keep costs under control. This remains a high priority for us.
All across Moscow, “food patriots” are blowing up bottles of Coke in a carbonated, high-fructose protest against the United States.
Pictures and videos uploaded on VK, Russia’s version of Facebook, show dozens of young protesters — sporting shirts with slogans like “Defend our children from overseas poison” and “I refuse Cola for Russia, I’ll drink to your health in kvass instead” — lining up plastic bottles of coke and, in unison, dropping in pieces of Mentos candy to chemically erupt a three-foot-high caramel-colored fountain.
The tried-and-true juvenile party trick, according to activist group Food Patriotism, underlines the corrosive nature of the beverage that has long been synonymous with U.S. capitalism. “This is an educational program for parents,” one activist told DNI news. “Imagine that happening in your kid’s stomach.”
Though they purport to be advocates for children’s health (a recent demonstration took place on Russia’s Children’s Day) and only target unhealthy, processed foods, Food Patriotism apparently gets its name from the “culinary diplomacy” movement, pioneered by the controversial ex-head of Russia’s Federal Consumer Protection Service, Gennady Onishchenko.
Onishchenko — perhaps best known for issuing a series of unorthodox health warnings, including an advisory against international travel (adapting to different climates takes a toll on one’s body) and participation in public protests (you might catch the flu) — advocated for bans on food imports from Moscow’s political enemies. He outright blocked imports of Moldovan wine as tensions rose over the breakaway, ethnic-Russian region of Transnistria.
Amid the recent showdown over another breakaway, majority-Russian region in a former Soviet state, culinary diplomacy appears to be making a comeback. Washington has imposed sanctions on key Moscow officials, and though tensions between the U.S. and Russia have plateaued in recent days, relations between the Cold War foes remain icy.
Ukrainian government forces battled separatists with artillery and automatic weapons on Wednesday as fighting raged for a second straight day in and around the eastern town of Slaviansk, forcing many frightened residents to flee.
The Kiev government, trying to break rebellions by pro-Russia militias which it fears could lead to dismemberment of the country, said more than 300 rebels had been killed in the past 24 hours in the "anti-terrorist operation" centred on the town, a strategically located separatist stronghold.
Rebels denied this and said losses by the Ukrainian side during a government offensive which began on Tuesday exceeded theirs.
At an army checkpoint on the edge of the town, the crash of heavy artillery shelling could be heard and a plume of black smoke rose above the outskirts. Sustained bursts of automatic gunfire rattled out from leafy areas in nearby fields.
Fleeing the fighting, families came through the barbed wire checkpoint in small groups, taking with them only as much as they could carry.
"It's a mess," Marina, a young woman, sobbed as she clutched her husband's arm. "It's war."
Balancing his four-year-old daughter on his hip, Andrei Bander, 37, said he feared he would not be back any day soon.
"We took only what was most necessary. We are going. We don't even know where. We will head to Russia though because it's clear we need to leave Ukraine. I don't see anything good left here," he said, waiting for a taxi in the no man's land beyond the check point with only a few small bags.
"In the past few days, from 5.30 in the morning until about 1 p.m., we have been sitting in the basement. We didn't have time to have lunch or wash or anything."
The United States is working to bolster Ukraine’s ability to secure its borders and preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty in the face of Russian occupation of Crimea and a concerted effort by Russian-backed separatists to destabilize eastern Ukraine. President Obama has approved more than $23 million in additional defensive security assistance since early March.
This assistance includes:
- A new tranche of $5 million for the provision of body armor, night vision goggles, and additional communications equipment. This is in addition to the approximately 300,000 Meals Ready to Eat (delivered in March), as well as assistance for the provision of materiel using Foreign Military Financing to support Ukraine’s armed forces with medical supplies, service member equipment (e.g., helmets, sleeping mats, water purification units), explosive ordnance disposal equipment, and handheld radios.
- The United States also has allocated Cooperative Threat Reduction funding to support Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service with supplies (e.g., clothing, shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps, engineering equipment, communications equipment, vehicles, and non-lethal individual tactical gear).
- To date, Embassy Kyiv has purchased and delivered 20-person shelters, sleeping bags, fuel filter adapters, barbed wire, patrol flashlights, perimeter alarm systems, fuel pumps, concertina wire, vehicle batteries, spare tires, binoculars, excavators, trucks, generators, food storage freezers, field stoves, and communications gear to the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service, for use in monitoring and securing their borders.
Senior Leader Engagement
- On April 1, senior U.S. defense officials met with their Ukrainian counterparts in Kyiv for bilateral defense consultations, during which they held substantive discussions on regional security, defense cooperation, and areas for growth in the U.S.-Ukraine defense relationship.
- Senior defense officials met with Ukrainian counterparts in Kyiv in early June to discuss ongoing U.S.-Ukraine defense cooperation and U.S. support to Ukraine’s defense reform efforts.
- In early June, U.S. European Command will hold a general/flag officer steering group meeting with Ukrainian counterparts in Kyiv to set the strategic direction for future military-to-military cooperation.
The world's leading industrialized nations meet without Russia for the first time in 17 years on Wednesday, leaving President Vladimir Putin out of the talks in retaliation for his seizure of Crimea and Russia's part in destabilizing eastern Ukraine.
The two-day Group of Seven summit, taking place in Brussels rather than the previously planned Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, will cover foreign policy, economics, trade and energy security.
The latter is an issue of particularly high sensitivity to Europe after months of tension with Moscow, which supplies nearly a third of Europe's oil and gas.
While it is the first time Russia will not be at the table since joining the club in 1997, Putin will still hold one-on-one talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Britain's David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande this week, on the sidelines of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The decision to drop Russia from the group was taken by its other members - the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Japan and Italy - in March, after Moscow seized Crimea and annexed it, a move not recognized internationally.
Since then, the EU and the United States have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on senior Russian and Crimean officials and threatened to apply much harder-hitting economic and trade measures if Moscow is deemed for have further destabilized eastern Ukraine.
While Russia retains substantial forces on Ukraine's eastern border, and pro-Russia militias are operating in many towns, presidential elections took place relatively peacefully across the whole of Ukraine last month, which the West took as a signal of Moscow's readiness not to escalate the crisis.
That sense of increased cooperation has raised questions about whether the European Union, with its critical trade and energy ties with Russia, could soon seek ways of drawing Moscow back into the fold, such as allowing it to rejoin the G8.
Officials responsible for coordinating this week's summit did not rule that out on Tuesday, but said Moscow had a long way to go to prove its intentions were sound and that it was capable of acting like a "normal democratic country".
"It's a bit early at this stage, but I wouldn't rule out the heads of state discussing how they see the future of the G7 or the G8," said one European official.
"It was Russia that distanced itself from the G8 via its actions in Ukraine. It is up to Russia to behave in line with international law and the values of the G8. That would be the prerequisite for the G8 to become the G8 again."
At the same time, another official added: "We cannot exclude that if there is an aggravation of the situation, the EU or the G7 will have to consider further measures against Russia."
Russia denies that it is behind the revolt in eastern Ukraine. It also asserts the right to protect Russian-speakers in the region.