Germany Rejects Russia Rejoining G7 While Ukraine Crisis Unresolved; Russia Calls it ‘Obsolete’

By James Carstensen | July 28, 2020 | 7:41pm EDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Crimea on the fifth anniversary of its annexation. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Crimea on the fifth anniversary of its annexation. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Berlin ( – Germany this week reiterated its objection to Russia rejoining the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrial nations, while a top Russian leader also poured cold water on the idea, dismissing the grouping as “obsolete.”

“The reason for the exclusion of Russia was the annexation of Crimea and the [military] intervention in eastern Ukraine,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recalled of the 2014 decision to expel Russia from what was then the G8.

“As long as we don’t have a solution there, I don’t see a chance for it [Russia’s return],” he said.

Russia’s occupation of Crimea continues, as does the conflict in eastern Ukraine, despite almost two dozen attempts at ceasefire agreements, the latest entering into force on Monday

Maas said that any chance for Russia to rejoin the grouping would be mostly up to Russia itself.

The European Union, which attends G7 summits in a special observer capacity, released a statement Tuesday reiterating its support for Ukraine’s “ independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”

President Trump said earlier this summer it would make “common sense” to invite Russia to participate in the next G7 summit, which the U.S. as revolving chair is due to host, possibly later this year.

He also suggested that South Korea, Australia and India be invited to attend. The G7 comprises the U.S., Germany, Britain, France, Canada, Japan and Italy.

Former Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, was dismissive both of Trump’s suggestion and the negative comments from the Europeans over Ukraine.

“They continue chanting their mantras about Crimea and Ukraine over and over again as a condition for restoring the G8,” Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page. “At the same time, they realize that Crimea has returned to Russia for good.”

“Besides,” he added, “there is no need for Russia to revive obsolete platforms for discussing international matters.”

Since 1975, leaders of the grouping have met annually to discuss world issues but this year’s summit in Washington, originally set for June, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. senators from both parties have expressed opposition to Russia rejoining the G7, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday saying “absolutely not” to the idea.

Last week a group of Democratic senators introduced a resolution opposing the move, prompting Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova to accuse them of “Russophobia” and of trying to “use the Russia factor in domestic political battles.”

Any attempt to expanding the G7 would be ineffective without involving China, she said.

“The days of elite clubs are gone,” Zakharova said. “It is clear that no serious conversation on crucial global issues is possible without China.”

In fact Trump in making the proposal had suggested that an enlarged grouping of leading industrialized countries should form a bulwark against China. He referred to the group becoming “a G10 or G11 against G1.”

Albert Goldson, executive director of geopolitical risk assessment and public policy firm Cerulean, said that expanding the G7 to include not only Russia but also China and India would increase its efficacy.

“The G7’s economic objectives are meaningless if they continue to exclude India, the world’s largest democracy, second most populous country and fifth largest economy, and China, the world’s second largest economy and most populous country – albeit politically communist,” he said.

Goldson added that, while Japan is an exception, the G7/8 without Chinese and Indian participation “gives the perception of continued colonialism and racism.”

Ankur Yadav, a post-doctoral fellow at the Freie University in Berlin, said Russia’s rejection of Trump’s offer was a signal that it “seeks to challenge the U.S.-led liberal order, and is confident about its place along with China in the emerging world order.”

“The West cannot exclude Russia, China or India in dealing with global challenges such as pandemics, climate change and terrorism,” added Yadav, a specialist in Russian politics.

He cited a report by the World Economic Forum saying that Asian economies this year will be larger than the rest of the world combined, in terms of purchasing power parity.

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