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G7 vows 'rapid assistance' to Ukraine

Milan bourse, international markets down amid tensions

03 March, 11:32
G7 vows 'rapid assistance' to Ukraine (ANSA) - Berlin, March 3 - Finance and economy ministers from the G7 on Monday vowed to provide "rapid assistance" to Ukraine as it mobilizes for war with Russia on its soil. The group of the world's wealthiest developed countries, which includes Italy, said at a meeting in Berlin that the aid was to help Ukraine deal with marcoeconomic and regulatory challenges, and to fight corruption, all of which were factors leading up to the ouster of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich last month. Over the weekend Russian President Vladimir Putin secured approval from his parliament to use the military to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine and invade his neighbor in what has become the biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War. Without bloodshed, Russian troops have already seized Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula where Moscow has a navy base.

The United States has threatened to isolate Russia economically and has stressed it is not seriously mulling a military intervention. Earlier Monday the G7 agreed to suspend any actions related to a June G8 meeting scheduled in Sochi, Russia. The G8 includes Russia, Italy, the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany and Japan.

Later, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. Trading was down across international markets amid the tension. The Milan bourse opened down 2.24%, with signs of a slight recovery as the day progressed. In Moscow the Micex lost nearly 10%, its sharpest drop since November 2008.