Russia’s Absence Makes G7 Summit A Missed Opportunity – OpEd
By Arab News
By Dalia Al-Aqidi*
The G7 Summit held in Japan over the weekend sparked considerable controversy because Ukraine was invited but Russia was excluded. This raises questions about the underlying motives and potential consequences of banning such a significant global player at such a critical time.
The exclusion of Russia from the G7 Summit can be traced back to its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. These actions violated international law, leading to Russia’s suspension from the then-G8 and subsequent exclusion from the G7 meetings. The rationale behind this decision was to isolate Russia to express disapproval and discourage further aggression.
This decision stems from a desire to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for his actions. By isolating him, G7 countries sought to express their strong disapproval and discourage any further aggressive behavior. However, while accountability is essential, it should not come at the expense of productive dialogue and global cooperation.
After nearly a decade of strained relations, it is crucial to reassess the efficacy of such an approach. Exclusionary tactics may only serve to further deepen divisions, hinder diplomatic progress and perpetuate a climate of hostility.
Excluding Russia from the G7 diminishes the potential for constructive dialogue and collaboration on pressing global issues. Russia’s participation could have facilitated discussions on various critical matters, including the war in Ukraine, cybersecurity and global economic stability.
Ignoring Russia’s geopolitical influence and dismissing its perspectives has only exacerbated tensions, prolonged conflicts and impeded the pursuit of common goals and peace.
Ukraine’s invitation to the summit may have been motivated by a desire to show support and solidarity amid the ongoing tensions with Russia. And while it is crucial to address Ukraine’s concerns, excluding Moscow inhibits the potential for diplomatic breakthroughs.
By bringing all relevant parties together, including Russia, the G7 could have served as a platform to encourage negotiation, de-escalation and the pursuit of peaceful resolutions.
One of the primary objectives of the G7 Summit is to strengthen global economic cooperation. Russia’s exclusion undermines this goal due to its significant economic influence and strategic partnerships across various regions.
Moscow’s absence from the G7 Summit perpetuates a narrative of division between East and West, which is neither productive nor conducive to global stability.
As a major global power, Russia possesses significant geopolitical influence that cannot be ignored. Fostering inclusion and encouraging dialogue is vital to creating an environment conducive to finding common ground and managing shared concerns effectively, including the war in Europe.
To address the concerns of those who question Moscow’s participation, the G7 could have leveraged this opportunity to constructively engage and hold Russia accountable for its actions.
Discussions on restoring territorial integrity, adherence to international norms and respect for human rights would have been more effective within a framework of open dialogue, rather than one of exclusion.
Instead of finding ways to ease the European tension, US President Joe Biden conveyed to fellow leaders during the summit in Japan that his country would support a collaborative endeavor with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, including F-16s.
The training is anticipated to occur entirely in Europe and is not expected to happen in the US. However, American personnel will participate alongside European allies and partners in conducting the training. The training program is projected to span several months and will commence in the near future.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged countries possessing F-16s in their inventory to send them to Ukraine, enhancing the country’s defensive capabilities against Russia’s ongoing aerial assaults.
It has become clear to the international community that America and its allies and partners have prioritized equipping Ukraine with the necessary systems, weapons and training to carry out offensive operations during the spring and summer months. That has only one meaning: They are not interested in achieving peace in 2023.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the G7 swiftly implemented an extensive sanctions and export control regime, establishing the most substantial measures ever imposed on a major economy. The impact of these measures has been particularly pronounced in critical sectors, leading to a notable slowdown in the trade of essential goods. As a result, exports from G7 nations to Russia experienced a significant downturn.
While these measures undeniably imposed economic hardships on Moscow, they have also impacted the G7 nations that export critical goods. Balancing the objectives of maintaining a unified stance against Russia’s actions while mitigating the potential negative consequences for G7 economies remains a complex challenge.
Every year, Washington allocates substantial financial assistance — surpassing the contributions of any other nation — to recipients globally to advance its security, economic and humanitarian priorities.
Throughout the course of the Ukraine conflict, the Biden administration and US Congress have channeled an impressive sum exceeding $75 billion in aid toward Ukraine. This comprehensive assistance package encompasses multifaceted aspects, ranging from humanitarian aid to financial assistance and military support.
A plurality of Americans, accounting for 46 percent of the population, have expressed their preference for the US to sustain its support for Ukraine for a limited period of one to two years. In contrast, 38 percent believe that the US should maintain its commitment for as long as necessary, the Brookings Institution reported last month.
This poll showcased a noteworthy partisan divide, with 62 percent of Republicans favoring the one-to-two-year timeframe, while 51 percent of Democrats advocated for an open-ended commitment until objectives are achieved. The study showed that the weakening of Americans’ support must concern US policymakers.
The upcoming presidential campaign in 2024 is poised to exert influence over public sentiments concerning Ukraine, considering the inherent partisan divisions surrounding Ukraine policy and the narratives espoused by specific candidates. Nonetheless, a pivotal aspect that will persist is the public’s perception of the ongoing conflict within Ukraine itself. Whether individuals perceive the current trajectory as favoring a Ukrainian triumph, Russian dominance or a state of impasse will significantly shape their viewpoints.
Ukraine could be Biden’s fatal shot.
The G7 should reevaluate its approach and embrace inclusive dialogue as the foundation for addressing complex global challenges. By inviting Russia to future summits, the G7 can foster understanding, bridge divides and work toward comprehensive solutions that benefit all parties. Meaningful engagement and collaboration are essential for building a more peaceful and prosperous world that respects the diversity of perspectives and that leverages the collective efforts of all nations.
• Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.