Leaders of the G7, meeting on the sidelines of the international nuclear security summit at the Hague, have fired an international rebuke to Moscow.
They suspended Russia from the G8 group of industrialised nations over its controversial annexation of Crimea.
But the leaders stopped short of kicking out Russia altogether.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov brushed off the international cold shoulder.
“The G8 is an informal club, no one gives out membership cards and no one can oust anyone by default.
‘If the West believes that this format has exhausted itself, so be it. We will not be clinging to it. We don’t see any tragedy if the G8 doesn’t meet. Maybe as a sort of experiment we can wait one or one and a half years and see how we survive without it.”
Discussions at the nuclear security summit were overshadowed by the talks on the Ukraine crisis. The G7 group agreed to work together to reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas and will meet again in Brussels in early June. It will be the first time since 1998 that Russia will have been shut out of the annual summit of industrialised democracies.
Euronews correspondent James Franey at The Hague said: “In 2009 it was the US President who said he wanted a reset in relations with Russia. Now the very same man has led calls here to suspend Russia from the G8. A new Cold War? Well maybe not. But amid all the US talk of pivots to Asia, it is clear that Europe’s borders have once again become the epicentre of global geopolitics.”
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