WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Tuesday invited allied leaders for an emergency meeting in Europe next week to discuss further action in response to Russia's involvement in Ukraine, as world economic powers considers whether Moscow' should keep its membership in their organization.
White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Obama wants to gather leaders of the Group of Seven nations and the European Union to meet on the sidelines of a nuclear summit next week in the Netherlands. Russia is one of 53 countries which will participate in the nuclear meeting in The Hague.
In a statement, Hayden said the meeting that Obama is organizing "will focus on the situation in Ukraine and further steps that the G-7 may take to respond to developments and to support Ukraine."
The G-7 includes the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan, France, Italy and Canada. Russia joined to form the G-8 in the 1990s, but has been a bit of an odd man out at their annual meetings. The G-8 has been eclipsed in recent years by the G-20, which includes China and emerging markets and was created to better represent the drivers of the 21st century global economy.
Russia has the G-8's rotating leadership and is scheduled to host a summit in Sochi in June, but the other members already had suspended preparations for that meeting over objections to Russia's involvement in Ukraine.
U.S. officials had been mulling the idea of an emergency summit since at least the weekend, depending upon how Russian President Vladimir Putin proceeded in Ukraine. The White House announced plans for the meeting shortly after Putin signed a treaty to incorporate Ukraine's Crimea region into Russia's map.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday said G-8 leaders have decided to suspend Russia's participation because of its incursion into Crimea, although other member countries said no decision has been made about Russia's future in the group.
Britain's Foreign Office said Tuesday that Russia is still part of the G8 — but did not rule out a suspension.
"The G7 collectively made clear last week that we would take further action should the Russian Federation seek to annex Crimea," the Foreign Office said in a statement. "We are keeping this under review and talking to G7 partners."