G7 leaders take tough message to Putin on Ukraine

BRUSSELS: Western leaders said they stood united Thursday ahead of their first direct meetings with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Ukraine, with President Barack Obama giving him a month to back down or face more sanctions.Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialised nations went straight from a two-day summit in Brussels to Paris ahead of Friday’s D-Day commemorations in Normandy where they will rub shoulders with the Kremlin strongman.“I have no doubt that I’ll see Mr Putin. Should we have the opportunity to talk I’ll deliver the same message as I have throughout this crisis,” Obama told a joint conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron as he left the G7.“If Russia’s provocations continue, it’s clear from our discussions here the G7 nations are ready to impose additional costs.”Obama said the summit — from which Russia was excluded after its annexation of Crimea in March — was important to “ensure that we’re in lockstep going forward” on Ukraine.The US leader said Russia had to recognise Ukraine’s president-elect Petro Poroshenko, withdraw troops from Ukrainian borders and stop backing pro-Moscow rebels who are destabilising eastern Ukraine. 

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