G7 group of nations says in statement that referendum on future of Ukraine region is a violation of international law.
Last updated: 12 Mar 2014 13:33
A man walks past a poster in Simferopol that reads “Crimea – Russia” [AP]
|The G7 group has said a Moscow-backed referendum in Crimea on switching from Ukraine to Russia would have “no legal effect” and called on Moscow to back down.On Wednesday, the G7 – the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US – along with EU leaders called on Russia “to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law”, according to a statement released by the White House.
“Any such referendum would have no legal effect,” they said.
“Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force. For all these reasons, we would not recognise the outcome.”
The statement comes before Sunday’s referendum in the Black Sea peninsula and as the US president, Barack Obama, prepared to meet the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, to the White House on Wednesday.
Russian troops moved into Crimea, a predominantly ethnic Russian region, after the February 22 removal in Kiev of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin leader Viktor Yanukovich.
The move by Moscow has sparked the biggest breakdown in relations with the West since the Cold War.
The G7 and the EU said annexation of Crimea would be a “clear violation” of the UN Charter, and would violate Russia’s commitments under several other treaties.
“Should the Russian Federation take such a step, we will take further action, individually and collectively,” the group said.
They called on Russia to de-escalate the crisis by moving forces back to bases in Ukraine and reducing numbers to pre-crisis levels, opening talks with Kiev and using international mediators to address concerns.
“We also remind the Russian Federation of our decision to suspend participation in any activities related to preparation of a G8 Sochi meeting until it changes course and the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have a meaningful discussion,” they said.