Obama: Putin is destroying Russia

'Does he continue to wreck his country's economy and continue Russia's isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire,' asked Obama, 'or does he recognize that Russia's greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries.'

Michael Kappeler
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama at Schloss Elmau hotel near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Monday, June 8, 2015, during the G-7 summit.

U.S. President Barack Obama accused President Vladimir Putin of wrecking Russia's economy in a doomed drive to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire and G7 leaders said they could step up sanctions against Moscow if violence in Ukraine escalated.

At the conclusion of a Group of Seven summit in the Bavarian Alps, leaders expressed concern about an upsurge in fighting in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have clashed with Kiev's troops in violation of a ceasefire agreed in April.

The strongest rhetoric came from Obama, who told a news conference the Russian people were suffering severely because of Putin's policies.

It was the second summit of the group of leading industrial nations to exclude Russia since Putin was frozen out of what used to be the G8 after Moscow's annexation of Crimea last year, a move the G7 condemned in their communique as "illegal."

"He's got to make a decision," Obama said of Putin. "Does he continue to wreck his country's economy and continue Russia's isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire, or does he recognize that Russia's greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries."

The Kremlin played down Putin's absence from the summit, saying he preferred "other formats" that were more effective and better reflected the balance of global economic power.

"It's impossible now to get together in seven or eight people and effectively discuss global problems," RIA news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

G7 sources said the Ukraine crisis and how to handle Russia had taken up two-thirds of the discussion at a Sunday dinner devoted to foreign policy.

One source, describing the Ukraine economy as a "catastrophe," said there was a consensus among the leaders that the country could not be allowed to fail.

Canada's Stephen Harper and Japan's Shinzo Abe both visited Kiev before the G7 summit and voiced strong support for President Petro Poroshenko, the sources said.

Sanctions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, who has led diplomacy to engage Putin in a diplomatic solution to the conflict, told reporters that sanctions against Russia could be lifted if Moscow and the separatists fully implemented a peace deal struck in the Belarus capital Minsk earlier this year.

But she added that Europe and the United States were also prepared to toughen sanctions. German officials said this would be necessary if separatists seized more territory in eastern Ukraine, especially around the strategic port city of Mariupol.

Poroshenko told his military last week to prepare for a "full-scale invasion" by Russia in response to an upsurge in fighting, which has gone far beyond the low-level skirmishing seen in recent months.

"As we've seen again in recent days, Russian forces continue to operate in eastern Ukraine, violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Obama said.

"Russia is in deep recession. So Russia's actions in Ukraine are hurting Russia and hurting the Russian people. And the G7 is making it clear that if necessary we stand ready to impose additional significant sanctions against Russia."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.