Dutch PM says Russia has the most to lose from Crimea tensions

Sun Mar 23, 2014 2:23pm EDT
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* Netherlands hosts special G7 summit on Monday

* PM Rutte says sanctions would seriously hurt Russia

* Says Ukraine will not deflect focus from nuclear agenda

By Thomas Escritt

THE HAGUE, March 23 (Reuters) - Russia has the most to lose from the conflict over Crimea, the Dutch prime minister said on the eve of high-level meetings in the Netherlands to be attended by U.S. President Barack Obama.

A meeting of the G7 group of industrialised nations was hastily bolted on to a long-planned Nuclear Security Summit last week to give leaders a chance to discuss a response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The Netherlands is not a member of the G7, but has agreed to host Monday's talks, where Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for bilateral talks in The Hague.

"Russia has an economy that is highly focused on oil and gas," Mark Rutte told Reuters in an interview on Sunday.

"It is not diversified. The growth rate has come down considerably in the last few years. If it came to putting in place sanctions, that would hurt Russia considerably."   Continued...