PRIME MINISTER David Cameron said he hopes the G7 summit of world leaders will remain united on sanctions imposed against Russia despite the impact they are having on European states.
Mr Cameron has made it clear that he wants the sanctions that have been in place since the annexation of Crimea last year to be maintained when they come up for renewal at the end of July.
US President Barack Obama also said the summit in Germany would show the West’s major industrialised states “standing up to Russian aggression in Ukraine”.
Russia was ejected from the G8 last year because of its interference in Ukraine, where Western nations claim it has given military backing to separatist rebels in the east of the country - something President Vladimir Putin denies.
The two-day G7 summit is the second gathering of the group of seven leaders since Russia’s removal.
With Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras set to meet Putin on June 18 to discuss his country’s debt crisis, there are concerns that Athens may break ranks and block the renewal of EU financial and economic sanctions at a Brussels summit at the end of the month.
Asked whether he would back financial incentives to keep on board countries such as Greece which have suffered as a result of the sanctions, Mr Cameron said: “Europe has been united on sanctions... We need to make sure Europe remains united.
“It has an impact on all countries in terms of putting sanctions on another country. Britain hasn’t let our pre-eminence in financial services get in the way of taking a robust response to Russian-backed aggression and I don’t think other countries should either.”
Arriving at the summit in the Bavarian Alps, the Prime Minister said: “I’m hoping for a good outcome where we can make sure that the sanctions are rolled over at the next European summit to show a united front against Russian-backed aggression.”
And European Council president Donald Tusk told reporters: “If anyone wants to start a debate about changing the sanctions regime, the discussion could only be about strengthening them.”
Mr Putin sought to play down Western concerns about Russia’s military activities, telling Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “Only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack Nato.”