THE HAGUE: World leaders gather in The Hague on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) for talks set to be dominated by the crisis in Ukraine, with Russia facing possible exclusion from the Group of Eight (G8) club of rich nations as punishment for its actions.
In Crimea, Russian troops seized control of a new Ukrainian military base in that region, further stoking tension.
US President Barack Obama has called an emergency Group of Seven summit to discuss what steps to take against Russia for its absorption of Crimea, which has forced Western leaders to rethink their relationship with Moscow after a post-Cold War period in which they sought to usher Moscow into the broader inter–national community.
With Russia massing what the North Atlantic Treaty Organi–zation (NATO) called a “very sizeable” force on its border with Ukraine, there are fears that President Vladimir Putin is hungry for more Ukrainian territory.
The growing crisis is expected to dominate a meeting origi–nally set up to discuss on nuclear security.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit for what may be their most tense talks to date.
It will be their first meeting since Washington imposed financial restrictions on the most powerful members of Putin’s inner circle for their decision to resort to force in response to last month’s fall of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin regime.
Kerry has already warned that Moscow risks losing its coveted place among the G8 over its deployment of troops in Crimea.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States—minus current G8 chairman Russia—must discuss the permanent expulsion of Russia from the group, to which it was admitted in 1998 as its reward for choosing a democratic post-Soviet course.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week the political conditions were not in place for a G8 to exist, although her Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier later said she had been referring to the June G8 summit in Russia.
Ukraine’s interim premier, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said on Sunday he had cancelled plans to be in The Hague so he could hold talks with the International Monetary Fund on a support program for his crisis-hit country.
Russian troops moving in
Russian troops on Monday seized control of a new Ukrainian military base in Crimea, throwing stun grenades and tying up the hands of Ukrainian marines, the Ukrainian defense ministry said.
The Russian troops stormed the naval base in Feodosia in eastern Crimea in the early hours of the morning, using armored per–sonnel carriers and stun grenades, the spokesman of the Ukrainian defense ministry for Crimea, Vladislav Seleznyov, wrote on his Facebook page.
Russian paratroopers also des–cended into the base from four heli–copters hovering above, he added, without further specifying how.
He said that three Russian vehicles were then seen leaving the base carrying Ukrainian marines whose hands had been tied up. Smoke was also seen coming from the barracks.
Russia last week incorporated Crimea into its territory, in defiance of international anger, and Moscow has in the last days moved to ensure total military control over the peninsula.
Elite Russian troops firing into the air and backed by armored vehicles had on Saturday stormed Ukraine’s Belbek airbase in Crimea after earlier taking other bases as well as naval vessels.