G-7 Leaders Signal United Front on Russia Sanctions

ELMAU, Germany (AP) -
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (center L) and President Barack Obama walk to attend their first meeting in the hotel castle Elmau in Kruen, Germany, on Sunday. (REUTERS/Michaela Rehle)
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (center L) and President Barack Obama walk to attend their first meeting in the hotel castle Elmau in Kruen, Germany, on Sunday. (REUTERS/Michaela Rehle)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she expects a meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies to produce a “united signal” that sanctions against Russia can only be softened if a February peace accord for Ukraine is fully implemented.

Even before the issue was brought to the table, most of the leaders had already expressed their support for the idea.

This year’s meeting of the leading industrialized democracies was the second in a row without Russia, which was ejected from what was the G-8 last year over its actions in Ukraine. Even with President Vladimir Putin absent, Russia was prominent in the leaders’ minds as they gathered in the Bavarian Alps.

Merkel and President Barack Obama agreed during a pre-summit bilateral meeting that the duration of sanctions imposed upon Moscow should be “clearly linked to Russia’s full implementation of the Minsk” peace accord agreed in February, the White House said in a statement. Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, another summit participant, were central to drawing up that accord.

Heading into the talks, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would push for Europe to stand firm with sanctions against Russia even though some countries — especially cash-strapped Greece — were suffering economically because of declining investment and tourists from Russia.

“It has an impact on all countries in terms of putting sanctions on another country,” Cameron said. “Britain hasn’t let our pre-eminence in financial services get in the way of taking a robust response to Russian-backed aggression and I don’t think other countries should either.”