The Group of Seven countries have spoken out in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and threatened Russia with serious consequences if the crisis is further aggravated. This is the message of a joint declaration issued at the world’s seven top countries summit in the Hague the other day. The Day requested some experts to comment on the G7 declaration and say if this is enough to dissuade Putin from invading eastern Ukraine and, in general, to curb his ambitions to redraw the map of Europe.
“THE WEST IS UNABLE TO PURSUE A PREEMPTIVE TACTIC”
Yurii SHCHERBAK, political writer, diplomat:
“This declaration is a weighty signal from an association to which Russia belonged until recently. I am sure Russia will not confine itself to Crimea. It will be stirring up trouble in a number of regions. We are still to see attempts to seize power and bloodshed scenarios so that Russia may have at least some pretext to bring in its troops.
“Obviously, sanctions will be mounting because the Group of Seven’s declaration says so. The West promised to apply sanctions as long as Russia steps up its aggression. But still this tone lacks the resoluteness we would like to hear. Indeed, it is an extremely serious challenge to G7 states, while Russia’s behavior has exceeded all the limits of the actions that country was supposed to take.
“We must view this G7 declaration as a very important international document. But we should ask for more economic aid, assistance in our democratic transformations, and, naturally, military aid which I hope the US will render. That some US Congress members demand that this aid be given in the shape of armaments and munitions is a very positive signal.
“The West is unable to pursue a preemptive tactic. While a certain country has a plan to engage security forces, saboteurs, and troops to seize various facilities, employ a use-of-force scenario, and commit outright aggression, democratic states do not a have a plan like this. Only now it is occurring to these countries that they are facing a sinister, cruel, and aggressive enemy. This is why they do not understand the necessity of pursuing a preemptive tactic. The West does not follow the logic of a cold war, which is its weakness.”
“THE EU IS VERY SLOW IN CRISIS SITUATIONS”
Oleh SHAMSHUR, former ambassador of Ukraine to the US:
“It is important that the G7 countries, including the US, as Russia’s largest partners, are prepared to impose systemic sanctions. It is absolutely clear now that it is not enough to enlarge the list of the Russians who are subject to sanctions. It is important that these sanctions be systemic and aimed at the Russian economy. This can stop Putin. This will hardly make him change his vision of things and strategy but, as far as curbing the aggressor is concerned, it is the most effective method.
“Some of my friends are saying that Russian businesspeople are seriously concerned. This means that these sanctions are already working, but they should be tougher and more biting.
“If it were a person or a leadership that heeds common sense, the G7 declaration would undoubtedly make an impact on them. But the decision-making process is absolutely warped in an authoritarian state. This process is managed by one person on whose whims and wishes almost everything depends. The G7 declaration is unlikely to thwart Putin’s plans. Will this be able to stop him? I hope this will be one of the factors – if, naturally, there are things that can strike a painful blow to the Russian economy.
“We can see that the West shows a seriously delayed reaction. This allows Putin’s Russia to present Western countries with a fait accompli. The decision-making method is too slow in the EU. Acting very slowly in crisis situations is a serious flaw of the West.
“It was believed at first that Russia would heed Western signals. But it was clear that the so-called referendum would be held and its results would be approved. I cannot understand why they waited until March 17 to impose tougher sanctions. This happens because there are a lot of factors, including a pro-Russian lobby, in those countries. On the other hand, the logic of events shows that this hesitation is very dangerous because it is bad not only for Ukraine, but also for the West, as it narrows the latter’s possibilities to influence the situation.”