(Vatican Radio) Leaders of the group of industrialized nations have suspended Russia
from the G8 group over its controversial annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
The announcement came after a G7 meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security
Summit in the Netherlands, where Russian and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers held talks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Deshchytsia in The Hague for the first time since Russia's move into Crimea triggered a diplomatic crisis.
Lavrov made clear Russia is not impressed by the prospect of being expelled from the G8 of industrialized nations. "About the G8? Well, you know, its an informal club," he said. "There is no real membership involved. So nobody can take away someones seat". He spoke while members of the group agreed not to hold a planned summit in Russia, and even met separately as the G7. Listen to this report from Stefan Bos:
The Russian and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers clearly agreed to disagree on how to continue Ukrainian-Russian relations.
Kyiv ordered its troops to withdraw from Crimea to avoid bloodshed, amid reports that thousands of Russian troops are near Ukrainian borders.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Deschytsia said he still hopes a peaceful solution can be found, amid concerns Russia will also annex other regions of Ukraine.
So we wanted to sit down around the table, talk and find a solution and maybe drink Vodka even," he told reporters, sparking some laughs in the rooms.
"But since we don't know these plans, the possibility for the military confrontation is
very high, taking into consideration the intelligence information about the deployment of a very big deployment of Russian troops on the eastern borders of Ukraine."
Neighboring countries who were once part of the Soviet Union's block are also concerned that Russia will use the argument of protecting ethnic Russians to attack them as well.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who is a favorite to become the European Union's next foreign policy chief, shares those concerns.
"There is a capability in place to go much further than Crimea. And ofcourse we ask ourselves:'
why build up such a capability?'," he wondered.
Ukraine has dominated the agenda of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.
Ironically it was Ukraine who gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994, in exchange for international assurances that its territorial integrity, and borders, would be respected.