G-7 gathering looms as Ukraine erupts in new violence

Published 9:20 am Thursday, June 4, 2015

WASHINGTON — A summit of 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.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

“I don’t think we can kid ourselves that the policy and right now the actions on the ground are producing the results we want,” said Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. She said European leaders will be assessing Obama’s next steps as they face a decision later this summer about prolonging their sanctions.

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“Russia has not changed its behavior,” she said. “If anything, President Putin, I think, is doubling down on multiple fronts, and the cohesiveness feels like it’s not there. People don’t know what’s next, how are we going to continue on.”

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 the member nations came into the summit trying to isolate Russia.