World leaders meet as Ukraine crisis strains East-West ties

World leaders meet as Ukraine crisis strains East-West ties

THE HAGUE - World leaders gather in The Hague on Monday for talks set to be dominated by the crisis in Ukraine, with Russia facing possible exclusion from the G8 club of rich nations as punishment for its actions.

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 international community.

With Russia massing what 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 originally 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.

'No more G8'

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.

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