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Diplomacy

Moscow calls G8 snub 'counterproductive,' still interested in dialogue

Russia says it is still open for contacts with G8 countries after being excluded from the forum due to the annexation of Crimea. At a G7 meeting in The Hague, leaders had again condemned Russia’s actions.

Crimea continues to overshadow G7 meeting

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday called the exclusion of Russia from the G8 forum of the world's biggest economies "counterproductive" and he said that "when it comes to contacts with the G8 countries, we are ready for them, we have an interest in them," he told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

"But the unwillingness of other countries to continue dialogue - we consider it counterproductive, both for us and for our partners themselves," Putin's spokesman added.

At a meeting of the G7 group in The Hague in the Netherlands, world leaders had agreed on Monday to deepen Moscow's isolation and hold their June summit in Brussels instead of Sochi and without Russia.

"Under these circumstances, we will not participate in the planned Sochi summit. We will suspend our participation in the G8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have a meaningful discussion," the group's statement said.

The move is aimed at further isolating Russia after it seized control of the Crimean peninsula, which had been part of Ukraine. Russia annexed it last week after holding a referendum, which many countries regarded as illegal and rushed.

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama amended his schedule for the G7 meeting to be able to meet Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, at the US embassy. The two leaders did not discuss the Ukraine conflict, but focused on bilateral ties and nuclear security, which was to be the focus of the G7 summit before the annexation of Crimea.

Kazakhstan is one of Russia's allies in Eurasia, so Obama's meeting with Nazarbayev serves to strengthen ties with a country with a strong economy that gives it some independence from Moscow.

Meanwhile in Kyiv, Ukrainian lawmakers on Tuesday dismissed Defense Minister Igor Tenyukh over his handling of the Crimea crisis. They then voted in General Mykhailo Koval to replace Tenyukh.

ng/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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