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Russia faces boycott over Ukraine

Western powers are prepared "to go to the hilt" to isolate Russia for its military incursion into Ukraine that may lead to visa bans, asset freezes, trade and investment penalties, and a boycott of a Russian-hosted economic summit of global powers in June, US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned.

Mr Kerry said Russian President Vladimir Putin should respect the democratic process through which the Ukrainian people ousted their pro-Russian president and assembled a new government.

Russia's "incredible act of aggression" amounts to "a stunning willful choice" by Mr Putin to invade another country on a "trumped-up pretext," Mr Kerry said in a series of TV interviews.

He said he has spoken with foreign ministers from the Group of Eight countries and a few other nations, and "every single one of them are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia" because of the invasion.

"They're prepared to put sanctions in place. They're prepared to isolate Russia economically. The ruble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges. I can't imagine that an occupation of another country is something that appeals to a people who are trying to reach out to the world, and particularly if it involves violence," Mr Kerry said.

He also mentioned visa bans, the freezing of Russian assets, trade and investment penalties. He suggested American companies "may well want to start thinking twice about whether they want to do business with a country that behaves like this".

He said the U. was "absolutely prepared" to boycott the G-8 meeting planned for June in Sochi, Russia, site of the Winter Olympics, "if we can't resolve it otherwise".

Mr Putin is "not going to have a Sochi G-8. He may not even remain in the G-8 if this continues," Mr Kerry said. Along with the potential loss of foreign business investment and other economic penalties, that would be "a huge price to pay," he said, calling Russia isolated. "That is not a position of strength."

The G-8 countries are the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.

Mr Kerry also said the administration was ready to provide economic assistance "of a major sort" to Ukraine.

He made clear that a military response to counter Russia's action was unlikely.

"The last thing anybody wants is a military option," he said. "We want a peaceful resolution through the normal processes of international relations."

The US and Europe are not obligated to come to Ukraine's defence because it does not have full-member status in NATO. Broader international action through the United Nations seems all but impossible because of Russia's veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council.

Mr Kerry added: "We're not trying to make this a Cold War," he said. It's about Ukrainians "fighting against the tyranny of having political opposition put in jail."


From Belfast Telegraph