Published Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking in the Kremlin in Moscow on Tuesday. (© Getty)
The move to suspend Russia's participation in the Group of 8 was confirmed on Tuesday by France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius - but the signing of a treaty to annex Crimea later went ahead.
"It is envisaged that all the other countries, the seven leading countries, will unite without Russia," Mr Fabius added, speaking on Europe-1 radio.
The G8 leaders meet annually to discuss key issues of global significance, with the last summit held at Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, in June and focusing on the state of the world economy.
Russia was the most recent world power to join the group, back in 1998 - joining France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada.
This year's annual summit had been scheduled to be held in the Russian city of Sochi in June, but preparations for that had already been suspended by the other seven member countries.
The crisis in Ukraine is the most serious test of European security in the 21st century so far.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague
Russia's suspension comes as the US and European Union announced fresh sanctions against the country, in response to the situation in the Crimean Peninsula.
President Putin's approval of a draft bill to annex Crimea led to travel bans and asset freezes being imposed on senior Moscow officials.
But that treaty has since been signed, following a televised address by President Putin on Tuesday in which he defended the return of Crimea to Russia and accused the West of encouraging unrest.
He also claimed the rights of ethnic Russians had been abused by the government in the Ukraine.
A referendum in Crimea, which returned a 96% vote in favour of splitting from Kiev and becoming part of Russia again, had been dismissed as illegal by the West.
After the signing of the treaty, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons that there was a "grave danger" of further military escalation by Russia.
He added that it would be necessary to "increase the pressure" being put on Moscow, as it had "run roughshod" over international law.
"No amount of sham and perverse democratic process or skewed historical references can make up for the fact that this is an incursion into a sovereign state and a land grab of part of its territory with no respect for the law of that country or for international law," Mr Hague said.
According to US President Barack Obama, continued intervention by Moscow in the Ukraine will "achieve nothing, except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world".
EU leaders held an emergency session two weeks ago to impose sanctions on Russia, but many member states have concerns about the impact of trade sanctions on fragile European economies.
Oil supplies are a particular concern, with Europe heavily reliant on Russia.
© UTV News