Moscow (CNSNews.com) – Senior Russian lawmakers have greeted President Trump’s call to readmit Russia into the G7 with skepticism, questioning whether such a move would genuinely benefit Moscow.
Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, told state-run TASS news agency that Moscow should only return to the G7 if it could ensure that the other members would not coordinate against it.
“If Russia indeed receives an invitation to take part in the 2020 summit, it should build on the specific agenda and how equal rights for all parties will be guaranteed,” Slutsky said. “All that should not boil down to some ceremonial actions amid the aggressive anti-Russian policy of sanctions pursued by the G7.”
Senator Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the upper house, the Federation Council,, echoed Slutsky’s concern about Russia being outnumbered by hostile countries. In a Facebook post, he warned that Moscow could find itself in a “seven against one trap” by returning to what would again become the G8.
“Russia’s reunion with the G7 would make sense only if we manage to avoid the ‘seven against one’ trap,” he said.
Kosachev also stated that Russia had little incentive to join an organization that excludes major non-Western economies like China and India.
The grouping of leading industrialized countries comprises the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan.
“We should look at the bigger picture,” he said. “What about considering a drastic modernization of the format and engagement of our Chinese and Indian partners?”
Sen/ Alexei Pushkov, Kosachev’s colleague on the committee, called Trump’s offer to bring Russia back into the G7 a “sound idea,” but stated that there were more pressing issues in the U.S.-Russian relationship.
“It remains incomprehensible how this is combined with the 70 types of sanctions that the United States imposed against Russia,” he said. “You should start with the rejection of sanctions, and then talk about the G8.”
In 1997, Russia joined the G7 following years of lobbying, but after President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea in 2014 and began aiding separatists in eastern Ukraine, the other members revoked Russia’s participation.
On Tuesday, Trump told reporters he would support a return to the G8 format. The U.S. will chair the grouping next year and host its annual summit.
“I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in,” Trump said. “It should be the G8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia.”
“If somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably,” he added.
Trump charged that the real reason for Moscow’s expulsion in 2014 was President Barack Obama’s embarrassment over being outmaneuvered by Putin in Ukraine.
“I guess President Obama – because Putin outsmarted him, President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out,” he said.
Britain, France and Germany have all rejected the idea of Russia returning to the group, citing the unresolved crisis in Ukraine – and, in Britain’s case, the attempted nerve agent assassination in England last year of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.
Ukraine, not a member of the G7, also opposes Russia’s return, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday, noting Russia’s ongoing interference in eastern Ukraine and occupation of Crimea.
This year’s G7 summit is being hosted by President Emmanuel Macron in Biarritz, south-western France this weekend.