US Secretary of State John Kerry (front R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (front L) meet at the Russian Ambassador's Residence in Paris, March 5, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned Russia on Wednesday that its actions in Ukraine have put its role in the elite Group of Eight club of leading nations at risk.
With Russia to host a summit of G8 leaders in Sochi in June, Lew linked its incursion into Ukraine's Crimea and interventions in the country's politics to Moscow's continuing position in the G8.
"We are on a path where I think it's clear Russia cannot sit in Sochi at G8 meetings while it's pursuing the policies that it's now pursuing," Lew told a Senate committee.
"Russia has to be held accountable for the actions it has taken, and also has to have a path to step back from what is a dangerous escalation," Lew said.
Washington and European powers have stepped up pressure on Moscow as the country remains defiant over a move by pro-Moscow troops to seize authority in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
US President Barack Obama said Tuesday Russia was "not fooling anyone" after it claimed it had no troops operating in Crimea.
Lew's warning came shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry met in Paris with Russia's Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov for talks on the Ukraine crisis.
On Saturday, Kerry warned Moscow it could lose its G8 membership due to the Crimea incursion.