Google – AFP, 2 March 2014
The Olympic flame claudron is pictured just before being extinguished at the
end of the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics outside the Fisht
Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014 (AFP, Yuri Kadobnov)
London — The British government will boycott the Winter Paralympics in Sochi over host Russia's military action in Ukraine, Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday.
The British premier said he and Foreign Secretary William Hague thought it would be "wrong" for ministers to go to the Games, which start on Friday, given the unfolding events in nearby Ukraine.
Cameron tweeted: "Because of the serious situation in Ukraine, @WilliamJHague & I believe it would be wrong for UK Ministers to attend the Sochi Paralympics."
A Downing Street spokesman said Cameron remained "gravely concerned" about the situation in Ukraine and would talk to US President Barack Obama later Sunday.
Cameron was also due to speak Sunday with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite
Hague has flown to Kiev to meet the new Ukrainian authorities, make clear London's support for them and to urge continued restraint.
Hague announced earlier that Britain would not take part in preparatory meetings this week in Russia for the G8 summit, due to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in June.
"In current circumstances, the prime minister is clear that the focus of our engagement with Russia must be the situation in Ukraine, rather than other normal business," the Downing Street spokesman said.
Ukraine warned Sunday it was on the brink of disaster and called up military reservists after Russia's threat to invade its Western-leaning neighbour risked sparking the worst crisis since the Cold War.
"The prime minister remains gravely concerned about events in Ukraine and is determined to pursue all avenues to reduce tensions and de-escalate a very dangerous situation," said the Downing Street spokesman.
"A stable Ukraine is in the interests of everyone -- including the UK. Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe and a neighbour of the European Union. Its economic prosperity, security and stability matter.
"The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated and this cannot be the way to conduct international affairs."
He added: "The prime minister and foreign secretary have also decided that it would be inappropriate for UK ministers to attend the Sochi Paralympics in current circumstances.
"The prime minister remains fully supportive of our Paralympic athletes' participation at Sochi."
Cameron did not attend the Sochi Winter Olympics last month. There is no tradition of British prime ministers attending the Winter Games.