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Russia’s Participation In G7 Summit Sparks Debates – OpEd

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The rescheduling of the Group of Seven (G7) summit from late June to September and Russia’s participation alongside with South Korea, Australia, India and South Korea has sparked discussions among both Russian officials and experts.

The Kremlin reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump had discussed in a telephone call, at the initiative of the U.S., the situation concerning Covid-19 pandemic, the Crew Dragon spacecraft launch, the Group of Seven (G7) summit as well as the situation on the oil market.

“Donald Trump has informed (Putin) of his idea of holding the Group of Seven summit and possibly inviting the leaders of Russia, Australia, India, and South Korea. The importance of intensifying the Russian-U.S. dialogue on strategic stability and confidence-building measures in the military sector was noted,” a press service report said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova praised President Trump’s idea to hold the G7 summit in an expanded format, which he said, was a step in the right direction, but it still did not provide for universal representation.

It’s obvious that any substantial ideas of global significance can hardly be implemented without China, the spokesperson said. “We have an efficient and approbate format that has proven to be good: it’s the G20, which represents the G7, BRICS, and the leading centres of economic growth and political influence around the world, rather than only part of it,” she added.

Moscow agrees with Trump’s view that the G7 is currently “a very outdated group of countries” and that it does not properly represent “what’s going on in the world”. It’s impossible to address global policy and economic issues within the framework of exclusive clubs. This is an objective reality, Zakharova said.

However, Russia intends to obtain more information about the upcoming G7 summit through diplomatic channels since many things are still unclear, Kremlin Spokesman, Dmitry Peskov said.

Asked to comment Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement that Russia should not be invited to the G7 summit, Peskov said: “This is a format that Russia is not taking part in and that is why from the start we said that there are more questions than answers at this stage there.”

“If Russia is invited, then what to do with other members’ points of view? If Russia is invited, then in what capacity? This is a format that we do not participate in,” the Spokesman said, referring to questions that might potentially arise. According to him, “there are still many unclear moments in this initiative (to invite Russia to the summit). We hope that diplomats will clear them up.”

In an interview with the Russian daily newspaper, Izvestia, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev explained: “Trump’s initiative is not about bringing Russia back into the group, it is about inviting more countries as observers. The G7 will make decisions and others will somehow certify the process.”

It is usual practice to invite countries to a summit, Head of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Andrey Kortunov pointed out. However, some G7 countries don’t want to see Russia at the meeting even in such a capacity because in their view, this sort of move would mean a concession to Moscow. It is also unclear why Russia should participate in a summit aimed against China given Moscow’s close relations with Beijing.

“Attempts to involve Russia in a fight against China are bound to fail. It is unclear what Moscow could gain from it,” Kortunov noted.

“Western countries haven’t put forward any practical proposals that Moscow would see as worthy of consideration. No one is offering to remove the sanctions, recognize Crimea’s reunification with Russia or ensure major investments in the Russian economy,” the expert explained.

This is why it is a fool’s errand to try to make Russia part of an anti-China front. Trump’s initiative, which has stirred up media interest, will likely lead to nothing, the expert concluded.

Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov said: “Naturally, we are carefully following all remarks of the American president, and we registered his statements that G7 looks like an outdated group of countries that no longer reflects global developments. We definitely agree with this approach. We come from the premise that global political issues should be resolved with more (states) represented rather than in some elite clubs.”

The diplomat noted that it is hard to imagine the resolution of global problems without China today. Moreover, he emphasized that there are other and more effective formats, like G20, much better suited to tackle global security and strategic stability.

Set up in the 1970s when the U.S., Italy, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, and Britain dominated the world economy, the G-7 shaped and led the global agenda. In 1998, Russia joined, only to be kicked out 15 years later over its annexation of Crimea. The United States presides over the G7 this year. 

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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