G-7 sum­mit ex­pected to lead to fresh ad­mon­ish­ment of Rus­sia

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY NE­DRA PICK­LER

A sum­mit of U. S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and other West­ern lead­ers this week­end in Ger­many is ex­pected to pro­duce new con­dem­na­tion — but not more pun­ish­ment — of Rus­sia for its sus­pected role in the es­ca­lat­ing vi­o­lence in Ukraine.

Ukraine is plead­ing for a re­sponse from the Group of 7 lead­ers meet­ing Sun­day and Mon­day in the Bavar­ian alps, a year af­ter the world’s largest in­dus­tri­al­ized democ­ra­cies booted Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin from their ranks in protest over the cri­sis that has now killed more than 6,400 peo­ple. Yet Ukraine and pro-Rus­sian sep­a­ratists are en­gag­ing in their most vi­o­lent battle in months, de­spite eco­nomic sanc­tions against Moscow and a 4-month-old cease-fire agree­ment.

Richard Fon­taine,

pres­i­dent

of the Cen­ter for a New Amer­i­can Se­cu­rity, said there’s been less unity in the G-7 now than last year when they came into the sum­mit try­ing to iso­late Rus­sia.

“What the Rus­sians have bet on is that over time, the dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests — in Europe and the United States — are go­ing to point in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions,” Fon­taine said. “As time goes on, bar­ring an­other real acute cri­sis mo­ment, it’s go­ing to be harder to keep the group to­gether fo­cused on one vi­sion to­ward Rus­sia.”

The G-7 gath­er­ing at the pic­turesque Schloss El­mau, a one-time artist retreat turned luxury spa, will bring to­gether the lead­ers of Bri­tain, Ger­many, France, Italy, Canada, Ja­pan and the United States. The Euro­peans will join other lead­ers from the con­ti­nent in meet­ings this sum­mer where they’ll vote on re­new­ing cur­rent sanc­tions on Rus­sia.

But un­less there’s a sig­nif­i­cant es­ca­la­tion of the cri­sis, the U.S. and Euro­pean Union ap­pear to have lit­tle ap­petite for levy­ing tougher penal­ties on Rus­sia.

What will the World Lead­ers

Fo­cus on?

Alis­tair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, said lead­ers would fo­cus on how to best sup­port the ex­ist­ing cease-fire deal, “in­clud­ing by en­sur­ing that sanc­tions will re­main in place un­til Rus­sia fully im­ple­ments th­ese agree­ments, and by dis­cussing op­tions for in­ten­si­fy­ing the costs in the event of fur­ther ag­gres­sion by Rus­sia and the sep­a­ratists.”

Ukraine ac­cuses rebels of de­ploy­ing a ma­jor of­fen­sive with around 1,000 fighters and dozens of tanks and self-pro­pelled ar­tillery sys­tems in a fla­grant vi­o­la­tion of a Fe­bru­ary cease-fire agree­ment. Ukraine and the West as­sert Moscow sup­plies rebels with man­power and pow­er­ful weapons.

Rus­sia re­jects those claims as un­founded. And the sep­a­ratist armed forces pointed blame for the re­newed fight­ing back at Ukraine, say­ing they en­gaged only in de­fense mea­sures af­ter an all-out as­sault by the Ukrainian army.

Ukrainian Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk is urg­ing G-7 lead­ers to condemn Rus­sia. “The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity must come up with a cor­rect and ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse to Rus­sian ag­gres­sion,” Yat­senyuk said.

The prime min­is­ters of Canada and Ja­pan in­tend to make an in­per­son show of sup­port to Ukraine by vis­it­ing on their way into Ger­many.

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cease-fire sealed in Be­larus in Fe­bru­ary has foundered amid a pro­lif­er­a­tion of low-in­ten­sity bat­tles that have now been over­shad­owed by de­vel­op­ments in Marinka, the gov­ern­men­theld town where the re­cent fight­ing was cen­tered.

The ar­mistice re­quired both sides to pull back heavy weapons from the front line, but in­ter­na­tional ob­servers vet­ting that process reg­u­larly note vi­o­la­tions across the board. Regular re­ports of ca­su­al­ties among gov­ern­ment and sep­a­ratist fighters have con­tin­ued un­abated. But deaths among non­com­bat­ants had al­most ceased un­til re­cent days, in an in­di­ca­tion that the war­ring sides are again in­creas­ingly re­sort­ing to in­dis­crim­i­nate shelling.

The State Depart­ment said it was dis­turbed by the un­rest and said any rebel at­tempts to seize Ukrainian ter­ri­tory would have costs for Rus­sia, which it ac­cuses of guiding the sep­a­ratists.

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