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Ukraine Crisis: G7 Leaders Agree On New Russia Sanctions As Tensions Escalate

26/04/2014 08:25 BST | Updated 26/04/2014 08:59 BST
Sasha Mordovets via Getty Images
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - APRIL 24: Russian President Vladimir Putin talks during a meeting with regional journalists and supporters of the People's United Front on April 24, 2014 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Putin has today warned of consequences if the Ukrainian army has been used against its people, following clashes between the military and pro-Russian militants that is reported to have resulted in the deaths of five militants. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

The G7 has agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, accusing Moscow of flouting the deal struck to defuse the crisis.

The powerful group of nations said the "costs" for President Vladimir Putin of action in the east of the country was already "significant" and would now increase.

In a statement, David Cameron, Barack Obama and counterparts from Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Canada expressed "deep concern at the continued efforts by separatists backed by Russia to destabilise eastern Ukraine".

They praised the "restraint" of the government in Kiev and the efforts it had made to implement the agreement struck in Geneva earlier this month.

In contrast, Moscow had taken "no concrete actions in support of the Geneva accord" and had not condemned pro-Russia militants or urged them to leave buildings they have been occupying.

The statement added: "We reiterate our strong condemnation of Russia's illegal attempt to annex Crimea and Sevastopol, which we do not recognise.

"We will now follow through on the full legal and practical consequences of this illegal annexation, including but not limited to the economic, trade and financial areas.

"We have now agreed that we will move swiftly to impose additional sanctions on Russia.

"Given the urgency of securing the opportunity for a successful and peaceful democratic vote next month in Ukraine's presidential elections, we have committed to act urgently to intensify targeted sanctions and measures to increase the costs of Russia's actions."

The move follows an intense round of diplomacy yesterday, including a conference call between president Obama and the European leaders.

Public exchanges between the sides have been becoming increasingly bitter, with Moscow's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov accusing the West of plotting to control Ukraine.

He said pro-Moscow insurgents in the south east of the country would lay down their arms only if the Ukrainian government cleared the Maidan protest camp in the capital Kiev.

"The West wants - and this is how it all began - to seize control of Ukraine because of their own political ambitions, not in the interests of the Ukrainian people," Mr Lavrov said.

But US secretary of state John Kerry said: "For seven days, Russia has refused to take a single concrete step in the right direction.

"Not a single Russian official, not one, has publicly gone on television in Ukraine and called on the separatists to support the Geneva agreement, to support the stand-down, to give up their weapons, and get out of the Ukrainian buildings."

Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has accused Russia of wanting to start "a third world war". There are reports that Russian jets have been violating Ukrainian airspace.

The agreement struck between Moscow and Ukraine in Geneva last week was hailed as a breakthrough, and called for all parties to down arms and vacate public buildings.

Pro-Russian militia have been occupying government buildings in more than 10 cities in eastern Ukraine while the nationalist Right Sector movement is still in control of two public buildings in Kiev.

UKRAINE RUSSIAN CRISIS