Ukraine crisis: UK ministers to boycott Paralympics in response to Russia’s ‘declaration of war’

William Hague has travelled to Kiev today, and the UK’s involvement in Sochi-based G8 summit talks has been suspended

David Cameron has announced that British government ministers will be boycotting Russia’s 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics, which open on Friday, in the wake of the ongoing international crisis in Ukraine.

Writing on his official Twitter account, the Prime Minister said: "Because of the serious situation in Ukraine, (Foreign Secretary) William Hague and I believe it would be wrong for UK Ministers to attend the Sochi Paralympics."

It was not immediately clear what this might mean for Britain's 15 ParalympicsGB athletes, but represents a strong statement given the UK's reputation, with Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury, as the birthplace of the Paralympic games.

The announcement came as Mr Hague said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine had been "violated" and called for Moscow to speak directly to the nation's new leaders.

International pressure is mounting on President Vladimir Putin after Russia yesterday authorised the mobilisation of troops in Ukraine, whose acting prime minister has described recent developments as a "declaration of war" - but so far Mr Putin has ignored the widespread international condemnation of his country's aggression.

 

Mr Hague was due to attend G8 discussions in the Black Sea resort paving the way for a summit in June, but the UK has now suspended its cooperation with the process.

Speaking from RAF Northolt as he was about to board a plane to Kiev, he said: "We have to recognise the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated and this cannot be the way to conduct international affairs and so, in addition to calling yesterday's emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, the United Kingdom will join other G8 countries this week in suspending our cooperation under the G8, which Russia chairs this year, including the meetings this week for the preparation of the G8 summit.

"We will keep our approach to further G8 meetings under review."

Read more: Ukraine 'on the brink of war'
'I am convinced Yulia Tymoshenko is a real heroine'
Comment: Nato 'betrayal' pushing Putin to act
Editorial: restraint on all sides is necessary

Ukraine's new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, today called on Mr Putin to pull back his troops, warning "we are on the brink of disaster", while Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Moscow to calm the "dangerous" situation.

Mr Hague, who will meet Ukraine's interim leaders in the country's capital, added: "I think we will see increasingly over the coming days the very strong concerns of the world by many, many nations and I hope that that direct communication between the two countries will be able to take place.

"Our response is diplomatic and peaceful and it should be. That is our response but it will be a very united diplomatic response and not just from the Western world, I think, but from many other countries in the world and that is something that Russia will have to think hard about."

Meanwhile, hundreds of British-based Ukrainians gathered outside the Russian Embassy in London today to protest against the build-up of troops in the Crimea region.

The demonstrators chanted and held banners reading: "Hands off Ukraine".

Many of them waved placards accusing President Vladimir Putin of being the "Russian aggressor" and chanted: "Stop the occupation."

Bogdan Maksak, a 20-year-old Ukrainian studying accounting and finance at City University London, attended the protest to call on Britain to uphold its commitment under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and take action against Russia.

The agreement, signed by the UK, US, Russia and Ukraine, promised to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Mr Maksak said: "I would like to ask the British Government to assist Ukraine and also keep its promises of the Budapest Memorandum.

"They have to make sure that we are protected and they also have to take action because at this stage staying neutral is almost like playing on the Russian side."

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor