7 Jun 2015

Obama vows to stand up to Russian ‘aggression’

US President Barack Obama promises to stand up to Russia over its Ukraine stance as world leaders gather for the G7 summit.

“Standing up to Russian aggression in Ukraine” will be a key topic in G7 talks as world leaders meet at Schloss Elmau in Germany, Barack Obama said.

The US president said the US and Germany were “inseparable allies”, while and German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Washington as an essential partner, as the two leaders sought to put a recent spy row behind them.

Relations between the two allies thawed over the last two years after revelations of widespread surveillance of German citizens, including Mrs Merkel’s phone, by the National Security Agency.

The only likely change to the sanctions used against Russia over Ukraine would be to strengthen them, said European Council President Donald Tusk ahead of the G7.

“My intention is that today we reconfirm G7 unity on the sanctions policy,” Mr Tusk said.

“So let me state clearly given the current situation, if any one wants to start a discussion about changing the sanctions regime, it could only be about strengthening it.”

The EU’s economic sanctions on Russia were imposed over the Ukraine conflict but are due to expire in July.

In March EU leaders agreed that the sanctions would remain until the Minsk ceasefire agreement is fully implemented – effectively extending them to the end of the year – but a formal decision has yet to be taken.

Mr Obama said the global premiers would also discuss “the global economy that creates jobs
and opportunity, maintaining a strong and prosperous European Union, forging new trade partnerships across the Atlantic”, as well as “combating threats from violent extremism to climate change”.