President Putin wished “bon appétit” to G7 leaders who patronized Russia – excluded from the club over Ukraine – and set conditions it has to meet to restore ties with the West. Otherwise, Obama and his allies threatened, more sanctions would follow.
On Thursday, as the G7 summit was wrapping up in Brussels, Vladimir Putin was asked to comment on what he thinks about the western leaders holding their gathering without Russia. The only comment that followed was: “I want to wish them, ‘Bon appétit.’”
This week’s summit of the world's leading industrialized nations became the first in 17 years when Russia was not participating. That comes as the US “mobilized the international community,” as President Barack Obama earlier put it, “to isolate Russia” over the Ukraine crisis.
Originally, the summit was to take place in Russia’s Sochi, but the plan was canceled after Crimea reunited with Russia – a move that infuriated the West, labeling it an “illegal annexation” of territory.
Despite being uninvited, Moscow got its fair share of judgments and accusations thrown at it during the gathering. The G7 leaders wagged their fingers at Russia, warning that more sanctions would follow unless it helps to deescalate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
In their joint declaration, the western leaders said they are united in condemning Russia’s “continuing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron said that all the seven leaders agreed to impose tougher economic sanctions against Russia unless it meets new requirements within a month.
“First, the status quo is unacceptable. The continuing destabilization of eastern Ukraine must stop,” Cameron told a news conference at the end of the summit.
Second, he went on, Putin must recognize the May 25 election of Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, as legitimate.
“He must stop arms crossing the border into Ukraine. He must cease Russian support for separatist groups,” Cameron stated, providing, however, no evidence for the accusations.
The British premier said he would urge Putin to take such steps during their meeting in France later on Thursday evening.
Obama used a similar mentor tone in his speech, saying that if the Russian president does fulfill the conditions set, “then it is possible for us to begin to rebuild trust between Russia and its neighbors and Europe.”
“We will have a chance to see what Mr. Putin does over the next two, three, four weeks, and if he remains on the current course, then we've already indicated the kinds of actions that we're prepared to take,” the American leader warned.
The fact that Putin did not immediately denounce the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential vote “perhaps offers the prospect he’s moving in a new direction.” But Obama added: “We have to see what he does and not what he says.”
Now that the Moscow-Washington “reset” has failed completely, the US – echoed by its European allies – has repeatedly blamed Russia for its alleged military involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. So far, no proof has been provided. Apparently, western leaders believe that if something is said frequently enough, like a mantra, people will start to believe it no matter whether it is true or not.
“What about proof? Why don’t they show it?” Putin told French media ahead of his trip to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
“The entire world remembers the US Secretary of State demonstrating the evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, waving around some test tube with washing powder in the UN Security Council. Eventually, the US troops invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein was hanged and later it turned out there had never been any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You know, it’s one thing to say things and another to actually have evidence,” the Russian president noted.
The G7 summit was held just ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy, on June 6, 1944. Putin along with the leaders of France, Britain, the US and Germany flew to France to attend the events to mark the anniversary of the opening of the western front against Adolf Hitler's troops.
The British and American leaders’ duet on the historic event would bewilder many Russians, as the successor of the Soviet Union, Russia, was not even mentioned as a contributor to the defeat of the Nazi. That is while the USSR lost over 25 million lives fighting the Nazi Germany in the WWII.
“Whenever our two nations stand together, it can leave a world that is more secure and more prosperous and more just, and we will be reminded of that again tomorrow in Normandy,” Obama said.
“On that day, like so many others, American and British troops stood together and fought valiantly alongside our allies. They didn't just help to win the war, they helped to turn the tide of human history and are the reason that we can stand here today in a free Europe and with the freedoms that our nations enjoy,” the US President said.
Cameron added that their countries “stood like two rocks of freedom and democracy in the face of Nazi tyranny”. He said that “thousands of young British and American soldiers, with their Canadian and Free French counterparts, were preparing to cross the Channel in the greatest liberation force that the world has ever known”.