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Obama Accuses Putin Of Wrecking Russia's Economy For 'Glory'

"Russia's actions in Ukraine are hurting Russia and hurting the Russian people," U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters at the G7 summit in southern Germany on June 8.

U.S. President Barack Obama has accused President Vladimir Putin of wrecking Russia's economy in a doomed drive to re-create the glories of the Soviet empire.

In some of the strongest rhetoric to come out of the Group of Seven summit, Obama told a news conference in Bavaria, Germany, that the Russian people were suffering severely because of Putin, who was not present with other world leaders because he was ousted from the exclusive club of economic powers after Russia's takeover of Crimea last year.

"As we've seen again in recent days, Russian forces continue to operate in eastern Ukraine, violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Obama said.

"Russia is in deep recession. So Russia's actions in Ukraine are hurting Russia and hurting the Russian people," he said.

"Ultimately, this is going to be an issue for Mr. Putin. He's got to make a decision," Obama said of his Russian counterpart. "Does he continue to wreck his country's economy and continue Russia's isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to re-create the glories of the Soviet empire, or does he recognize that Russia's greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?"

More sanctions will be the consequence if Putin chooses to continue his current course, Obama said.

"If Russia, working through separatists, doubles down on aggression inside of Ukraine," then the United States and European Union will increase their sanctions, he said.

A communique issued by the G7 said that the broad economic sanctions already in place will continue until the Minsk cease-fire accords signed between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels are fully implemented.

"We expect Russia to stop transborder support of separatist forces and to use its considerable influence over the separatists," the declaration said.

The Kremlin did not directly answer Obama's accusations but played down Putin's absence from the summit, saying he preferred "other formats" that were more effective and better reflected the balance of global economic power.

"It's impossible now to get together in seven or eight people and effectively discuss global problems," the RIA news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP
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