OECD postpones talks with Russia

Paris - The OECD said on Thursday it had postponed all activities related to Russia's accession to the organisation following a request from its 34 members.

The move by the organisation, which includes economic heavyweights such as the United States, Germany, France, Japan and Mexico, is the latest effort to apply pressure on Moscow ahead of a referendum on Sunday in which Ukraine's southern region of Crimea could vote to secede and join Russia.

Russian light infantry fighting vehicles drive along roads in the west Russian town of Vesyolaya Lopan about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Ukrainian border, March 12, 2014. Ukraine's government appealed for Western help on Tuesday to stop Moscow annexing Crimea but the Black Sea peninsula, overrun by Russian troops, seemed fixed on a course that could formalize rule from Moscow within days. Credit: Reuters

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development did not give further details, but according to its website the grouping opened discussions with Russia in 2007 for membership of the organisation.

The OECD originally turned down a request in 1996 from Russia to become a member under President Boris Yeltsin.

The accession procedure is complex and can be long, as it involves a series of examinations to assess a country's ability to meet OECD standards in a wide range of policy areas.

During membership discussions, countries must demonstrate or bring their policies up to OECD standards in a range of areas such as tax, the environment and statistics.

Gaining access to the organisation is considered recognition that a country's economy and development level have reached an important mark.

The OECD also said its members had agreed to strengthen cooperation with Ukraine to help it address the “public policy challenges it faces”.

Germany's Angela Merkel warned Moscow on Thursday that it risked “massive” political and economic damage if it refused to change course on Ukraine, saying Western leaders were united in their readiness to impose sanctions on Russia if necessary. - Reuters