G7 summit: Barack Obama accuses Vladimir Putin of a return to ‘dark tactics’ over Ukraine

President seeks to reassure European allies the US will support them if their borders are threatened by Russia

Brussels

President Barack Obama has accused Russia of reviving the “dark tactics” of the past in its bid to maintain influence in Ukraine, as world leaders meeting in Brussels echoed his calls for Moscow to stem the separatist violence and hold talks with the new leader in Kiev.

Mr Obama used the 25th anniversary of the end of communism in Poland to draw parallels with Ukraine’s struggle today, telling crowds gathered in front of Warsaw’s Royal Castle that “the days of empire and spheres of influence are over – bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small”.

The Kremlin’s decision to annex Crimea sparked global outrage and a round of sanctions. The US and the EU have threatened more debilitating measures targeting the Russian economy unless President Vladimir Putin stops stoking the separatist unrest gripping eastern Ukraine.

Mr Obama praised the presidential elections in Ukraine last month – which passed relatively smoothly despite the rebellion in the east – and warned Russia to respect the results. “Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia,” he said. “Because after investing so much blood and treasure to bring Europe together, how can we allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define this new century?”

David Cameron said the G7 should send “a clear message of support to Ukraine and a united message to President Putin that he needs to engage with the Ukrainian government to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis”.

“That’s what I’ll be saying to President Putin myself tomorrow. This is the first summit without Russia since the 1990s. And until they change course, they need to understand that they will face continuing isolation and no seat at the table,” the Prime Minister said.

President Putin appeared to be willing to talk. “Dialogue is the best way to bridge any gaps,” he said.

A Femen activist is arrested outside the EU Council (AP) A Femen activist is arrested outside the EU Council (AP)
The US President is on a four-day trip to Europe, where he is seeking to reassure allies about Washington’s support should Russia threaten their borders. On Tuesday he announced up to $1bn in extra military spending for the region, to be concentrated in eastern Europe.

After his Warsaw speech and meeting Ukrainian President-elect, Petro Poroshenko, Mr Obama flew to Brussels for a G7 leaders’ summit, that was to be hosted by Russia in  Sochi until its indefinite suspension from the G8 in March.

A key issue for the G7 will be whether Russia is doing enough to calm the fighting in eastern Ukraine, with more deaths reported today, as government forces clashed with the separatists who have declared independent republics in some cities. Moscow denies it is behind the violence, but the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, made clear she believes the Kremlin has the power to help end it.

“It is imperative that President Putin use his influence to get the separatists to refrain from violence and intimidation, hand over their weapons and stop the occupations,” she told the German parliament. “If this doesn’t happen... we won’t shrink from imposing further sanctions.”

The next few days are full of opportunities for diplomacy, when Mr Putin  faces some of his critics for the first time since the crisis erupted. He is one of 18 world leaders attending a ceremony on Friday on the beaches of Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. He is also due to hold meetings in Paris with David Cameron, Ms Merkel and French President François Hollande. While no official meeting is scheduled with Mr Obama, they are likely to see each other in Normandy.

While there seems to be diplomatic progress, the fighting continued in Ukraine, with government forces battling pro-Russian insurgents around the eastern town of Sloviansk, a separatist stronghold.

The G7 is not only concerned with tensions over Ukraine. German prosecutors have opened an investigation into the alleged monitoring of Ms Merkel’s cellphone by the US National Security Agency, officials said, in a move that could again complicate diplomatic relations between the two allies.

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

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Support) - £29,000

£29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Suppor...

Recruitment Genius: Laser Games Supervisor

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PPC Executive / Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A PPC Executive/Manager is requ...

Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WMS Operations

£55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WM...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness