Russia Update: G7 Meets Without Putin and Vows to Continue Sanctions Against Russia

June 8, 2015
G7 meetings in Bavaria June 7, 2015. From left to right: President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo by Getty Images

The G7 leaders met in Bavaria this weekend and vowed to continue sanctions against Russia, with the option to add more, if the Minsk agreement continues to be violated. The Western leaders urged Russia “to use its considerable influence over the separatists” to fully abide by the agreement.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.


Russia This Week:

Is ‘Novorossiya’ Really Dead?
From Medal of Valor to Ubiquitous Propaganda Symbol: the History of the St. George Ribbon
What Happened to the Slow-Moving Coup?
Can We Be Satisfied with the Theory That Kadyrov Killed Nemtsov?
All the Strange Things Going On in Moscow

Special features:

With Cash and Conspiracy Theories, Russian Orthodox Philanthropist Malofeyev is Useful to the Kremlin
Alexey Navalny On the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
Theories about Possible Perpetrators of the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
Novaya Gazeta Releases Sensational Kremlin Memo

Please help The Interpreter to continue providing this valuable information service by making a donation towards our costs‏.

Russia: The Frozen Culture

Russia: The Frozen Culture

In earlier essays here this author has noted that Russia can be thought of as a frozen culture that cannot escape its past and therefore is condemned endlessly to repeat it. Allegedly as well, Vladimir Putin is a keen student of Russian history. But if that is the case, rather than learn from that history […]

View full page >

Jun 09, 2015 00:30 (GMT)

Just Russia Faction in State Duma Hopes to Strip Ponomarev of His Mandate

The Just Russia Duma Faction, headed by party leader Sergei Mironov, is hoping to strip Ilya Ponomarev of his mandate, reported.

said a proposal would be submitted to the Duma by the end of the week,
and there were grounds for removing him beyond the criminal case related
to the Skolkovo Foundation.

A lawyer for the faction said that
Ponomarev had not attended sessions of parliament or the committee where
he is a member, and this could be a reason to remove him.

Ponomarev recently announced that he was remaining in the US for now after the Duma voted to strip him of his parliamentary immunity.

Ponomarev was the only deputy to vote against the annexation of the Crimea, and took other controversial positions. The case against him to the once-supported innovation programs of Skolkovo is widely believed to be fabricated in retaliation for his opposition activty.

Last week, pro-Kremlin trolls flooded social media with rumors of his death, which he cheerfully denied, for the third time.

simply wants to curry favor with the Kremlin,” Ponomarev commented. He
said there were only two reasons for removing a member of the State
Duma: a guilty verdict from a court trial or evidence that the deputy
engaged in commercial activity. Neither applied to his situation, he

Last month there were rumors
that the Investigative Committee had opened a criminal case against
Ponomarev, but the notice has not appeared to date on its web site, nor
has it answered inquiries about the case.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Opposition Journalist Kara-Murz, Jr. Remains in Serious Condition in ICU
Opposition journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. improved last week but he is still listed as in serious condition in the intensive care unit, Open Russia Reported.

Kara-Murza, Jr., the federal coordinator for Open Russia in Moscow was rushed to the hospital with suspected poisoning May 26 and suffered kidney failure. He was put into an induced medical coma.

On June 7, Dr. Denis Protsenko, deputy chief physician for anesthesiology and emergency medicine at Pirogova City Hospital No. 1 made a statement (translation by The Interpreter):

“The condition of Vladimir Kara-Murza, as before, remains stable and serious for now without fundamental improvements, but, which is much more important for us, without a negative dynamic. Vladimir is conscious, all the machines are turned off except the hemodialysis. Today for the first time we tried turning off the hemodialysis — let’s see if it is needed as a constant regimen. Vladimir’s condition continues to require careful monitoring, therefore he is remaining in the intensive care department.

On June 5, Dr. Alexey Svet said his “kidneys have started working.” On June 4, he had made the following statement:

“Yesterday within the framework of the treatment being conducted, in order to rule out the possibility of a acute surgical situation, after consultation wit the chief surgeon of the city, a diagnostic laparoscopy was conducted which did not confirm the presence of peritonitis in the abdominal cavity. The planned therapy is continuing. In light of continued laboratory signs of systemic inflammation the antibiotics therapy was changed, and new samples were taken to detect flora and sensitivity to antibiotics.”

Vladimir Kara-Murza, Sr., the father of Kara-Murza, Jr., host of a talk show on RFE/RL, at first seemed to indicate in an interview with Ekho Moskvy on May 29 that he did not want to pursue the theory that his son was poisoned, and agreed with a visiting Israeli doctor that they should “not look for criminals but treat the person.”

But later in an interview with the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), he was more forthright.

“Doctors have not been able to establish the exact cause of the illness.
We are tired of that and of ridiculous suggestions about a routine food
poisoning circulating in media,” the elder Kara-Murza said. “Those who
ate with him that day are all right. He was the only one who abruptly
felt extremely unwell hours after eating that day. Now we have all
reasons to suggest that my son was poisoned.”

— Catherine  A. Fitzpatrick

G7 Meets Without Putin and Vows to Continue Sanctions Against Russia
World leaders in the G7 met in Telfs-Buchen, Austria this weekend to discuss a number of issues including trade, climate change and combating violent extremism, with the war in Ukraine topping the agenda, CNN and other media reported. US President Barack Obama said:

“We think that there can be a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to this problem, but it’s going to require that Europe, the United States and the Transatlantic Partnership, as well as the world, stay vigilant and stay focused on the importance of upholding the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

During a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the White House said the leaders “agreed that the duration of sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia’s full implementation of the Minsk agreements,” a short-lived ceasefire in the Ukraine crisis reached in March. Since that agreement, there have been multiple violations, including advances by heavy weaponry.

More than half of the meeting was focused on the situation in Ukraine, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“We have said since the day the sanctions were in place that the U.S. and partners put these in place because our expectation is that Russia should live up to Minsk agreement,” Earnest said. “We made clear we would relieve sanctions if they lived up to agreement. They’ve done the opposite and redoubled.”

The leaders barried Russia again from their meeting. European Council President Donald Tusk, former prime minister of Poland, said “all of us would prefer to have Russia around the G7 table” but that that Russia wouldn’t be invited “as long as it behaves aggressively toward Ukraine and other countries.”

Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, was most pointed, CBC reported.

“We are having a discussion on the shared interests of the Western democratic world. Mr. Putin, who is in no way part of that, has no place at the table and I don’t believe there’s any leader who would defend Mr. Putin having a place,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday.

Ultimately, Obama found support for continuing Russian sanctions, Fox News reported.

Earnest said Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of the need to “show unity in confronting Russia over actions in Ukraine.”

Earnest said whether to keep or impose additional economic sanctions against Russia will depend on whether the country decides to keep its end of the so-called Minsk agreement, updated after Moscow annexed Crimea last year, not whether it returns the peninsula.

“Russia has essentially thumbed their nose at commitments made at (the) agreement,” Earnest said after the start of the two-day summit.

In the final declaration, the G7 noted that they did not recognize the annexation of the Crimea, and were prepared to add even more sanctions:

We reiterate our condemnation of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation and reaffirm our policy of its non-recognition.

We reiterate our full support for the efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, particularly in the framework of the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group. We welcome the OSCE’s key role in finding a peaceful solution. We call on all sides to fully implement the Minsk agreements including the Package of Measures for their implementation signed on 12 February 2015 in Minsk, through the established Trilateral Contact Group and the four working groups. We are concerned by the recent increase in fighting along the line of contact; we renew our call to all sides to fully respect and implement the ceasefire and withdraw heavy weapons. We recall that the duration of sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia’s complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty. They can be rolled back when Russia meets these commitments. However, we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase cost on Russia should its actions so require. We expect Russia to stop trans-border support of separatist forces and to use its considerable influence over the separatists to meet their Minsk commitments in full.

There as been concern that, if Russia made progress on Minsk-2, the EU might be willing to drop sanctions originally put in place over the forcible annexation of Crimea. This fairly strong language makes it clear that “respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty” evidently includes “non-recognition” of the “illegal annexation.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick