The US and top economic powers have cancelled an upcoming G8 summit to build pressure on Russia against its military action in Ukraine.
After the talks on the Ukraine crisis in The Hague, it was announced yesterday that the G8 summit scheduled in Sochi in June would be replaced by a G7 meeting in Brussels, without Russian involvement.
The decision was taken by leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the US, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission following their meeting in The Hague on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit.
"We will suspend our participation in the G-8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion and will meet again in G-7 format at the same time as planned, in June 2014, in Brussels, to discuss the broad agenda we have together," the G-7 countries said in a joint statement.
"We have also advised our Foreign Ministers not to attend the April meeting in Moscow. In addition, we have decided that G-7 Energy Ministers will meet to discuss ways to strengthen our collective energy security," the statement said.
A senior administration official described this as a strong statement from the G7 that Russia's actions will have significant consequences.
"We've already imposed a cost on Russia in the sanctions that we've issued in coordination with Europe, Canada, and Japan as well.
"But importantly, the G7 made clear that they're ready to intensify actions, including coordinated sectoral sanctions that will have an increasingly significant impact on the Russian economy if Russia continues to escalate the situation," the official said.
"In short, Russia is suspended from the G8 pending its current activities in Ukraine, and the necessity is now on Russia to de-escalate to avoid this continued isolation from the international community.
"In addition, a decision was taken that the G7 energy ministers should meet in the coming weeks to strengthen the collective energy security of the G7. And this provides a forum to discuss ways, for instance, to diversify energy supply for Europe as we consider potential sectoral sanctions, including on the energy sector in Russia," the official added.