LONDON, March 2 Britain will suspend its
participation in preparations for a G8 meeting in Sochi after
Russia violated Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity,
British Foreign Minister William Hague said on Sunday.
The United States has already said it will not take part in
the meetings, and a source in President Francois Hollande's
office said France has also pulled out.
Western countries are scrambling to respond to developments
in Ukraine's Crimea, where Putin has claimed the authority to
send Russian troops in the biggest confrontation between Moscow
and the West since the Cold War.
"The United Kingdom will join other G8 countries this week
in suspending our co-operation under the G8, which Russia chairs
this year, including ... meetings this week for the preparation
of the G8 summit," Hague told media before boarding a flight to
Kiev to meet with the pro-Western government that took power
when Russian ally Viktor Yanukovich fled last week.
Hague said Russia would have to "think hard" about the
united diplomatic and peaceful international response to its
actions and said he hoped direct communication between Ukraine
and Russia would be able to take place.
"We call on both sides to ensure that there can be a
reduction in tensions and the avoidance of conflict," he said.