LONDON – David Cameron on Sunday announced that British government ministers will boycott the Sochi Winter Paralympics in protest at Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis.
The Prime Minister said he had agreed with foreign secretary William Hague that “it would be wrong for UK Ministers to attend the Sochi Paralympics” following Russia’s decision to send troops into its neighbouring country.
The Paralympics are due to start on March 7 and run for nine days, with 45 nations – including Ukraine – currently expected to send athletes to the Russian resort of Sochi. However, the games risk being overshadowed by events further along the Black Sea coastline.
Earlier in the day Hague declared that the “sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated” as he prepared to fly to Kiev for talks with the new Ukrainian government.
“This cannot be the way to conduct international affairs,” he said shortly before boarding a plane at RAF Northolt in west London.
“Our response is diplomatic and peaceful and it should be. That is our response but it will be a very united diplomatic response and not just from the Western world, I think, but from many other countries in the world and that is something that Russia will have to think hard about.”
Hague announced that Britain would join with the US, France and Canada and boycott this week’s preparatory talks for June’s annual summit of the G8 nations, which is also due to be hosted by Russia in Sochi.
The foreign secretary is due to spend two days in Kiev and said he has been having regular telephone conversations with members of the new Ukrainian regime in recent days.
Hague said he will urge Ukraine’s new leaders to show restraint and tell them that they must make sure they “represent their whole country”, including the pro-Russian east and south. He will also warn the new Ukrainian leaders of “the tough economic decisions” that will be necessary in order to secure international financial support for the new regime.
Meanwhile, Conservative Treasury minister Sajid Javid has attempted to blame Labour leader Ed Miliband’s decision to oppose British military intervention in Syria last August for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
“Direct link between Miliband’s cynical vote against #Syria motion & Russia’s actions on #Ukraine. Completely unfit to lead Britain,” Javid tweeted on Saturday, later clarifying that “When intl community blatantly fails to enforce intl law, others draw lessons”.