The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States (the G7), plus the president of the European Council and the president of the European Commission, met yesterday in The Hague to reaffirm their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence. They also made a very good decision: They kicked Russia out of the room for bad behavior. Good for them.
The G7 was created so that the leading market-based Western democracies could help each other preserve economic freedom and increase prosperity for their citizens. It was not created to give diplomatic and public relations cover to corrupt regimes such as Vladimir Putin’s.
Now the Western powers should show further resolve. The G7 should follow through on its threats to intensify actions against Russia, “including coordinated sectoral sanctions that will have a significant impact on the Russian economy, if Russia continues to escalate this situation.”
There is another thing they can and should do: downgrade the next meeting of the G20, scheduled for Brisbane, Australia, in November 2014. Russia is still a member of the G20, as is China, which has maintained disgraceful silence since Putin’s illegal invasion and occupation of Crimea.
The West should send another strong signal to both of those governments—that barbaric actions have consequences—by announcing now that they will send only finance ministers to the next G20 meeting. That would only be a return to precedent: The G20 met at the finance minister level until the 2008 financial crisis.
And, in any case, G20 meetings have not been very productive—mostly just talk and photo-ops. Also, downgrading it would save Americans a lot of money in security and transportation costs.