03/25/2014, 00.00
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As G-8 goes back to G7, Russia turns to China and India

Following Moscow's suspension, the upcoming G-8 meeting in Sochi is cancelled, a decision Russian Foreign Minister dismisses as irrelevant. Concerns emerge over sanctions given the interdependence between EU, US and Russia in oil and gas. Sechin travels to India, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. China remains a good customer for Russian oil.

The Hague (AsiaNews) - The group of most industrialised nations has suspended Russia. Now the G-8 is back to being the G7.

Meeting in The Hague (Netherlands) yesterday, the leaders of the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan (pictured) cancelled the next G8 summit in Sochi (Russian resort town that hosted the recent Winter Olympics) and set the next G7 meeting in Brussels.

Moscow's suspension is one of the measures the great powers took to punish Russia for its annexation of the Crimea. The group threatened further sanctions if Moscow attacked other parts of eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Mr Lavrov met for the first time Mr Deshchytsia, Ukraine's interim foreign minister, on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague. Speaking to reporters, he said he saw "no great tragedy" if Moscow was expelled from the G8 group.

Following Russia's annexation of Crimea, the United States imposed asset freezes and visa bans on 31 Russians and Ukrainians, including political and business figures close to Putin, and barred Bank Rossiya. The European Union has put 51 people on its blacklist.

Although Russian shares lost 13.7 per cent since the start of the year and the ruble dropped 8.9 per cent against the US dollar, Western sanctions are only a nuisance to Moscow. In order to hit Russia, the West should stop reduce its dependency on Russian oil and gas.

In fact, Russia is the European Union's main trading partner, the fifth for the United States.

Russia meets 34 per cent of the EU's oil and gas needs whilst, the US imported 167.5 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia in 2013.

Still, the threat of economic and trade sanctions is pushing Russia to seek new markets for its oil and gas with China and India as its main potential partners.

China already imports a lot of Russian oil, which now represents 12 percent of China's crude imports. Last month, it imported a record amount: 2.72 million metric tonnes, almost three times what it did ten years ago.

In March 2013, Moscow and Beijing signed several agreements to increase oil exports to China and undertake exploration in the Arctic.

Yesterday, Igor Sechin, chief executive of Russia's state oil giant Rosneft and close friend of Putin, travelled to Delhi hoping to conclude multi-billion dollar deals. After that, he is expected in Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, in Crimea Russian forces seized the naval base at Feodosia, the last military outpost under Ukrainian control in the region.

In Kiev, interim President Oleksander Turchinov told parliament that he had ordered a military pull-out from Crimea because of "Russian threats to the lives of military staff and their families".

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