Russia's "return" to the Group of Seven. Will they forgive Putin's illegal annexation of Crimea?
France and the U.S. have called for Russia's return to the Group of Seven after it was thrown out of the club for its illegal annexation of Crimea. However, Germany and the United Kingdom have expressed their disagreement with the idea, as there is currently no reason to review the decision.
First of all, when Russia was admitted to the Group, it did not meet the requirements set for the members of the club. The Group consists of highly developed, economically successful and democratic countries that have a significant impact on the global economy. At that time, Russia was an "economic dwarf" and, in fact, remains such to this day. The leaders of the G7 member states were driven by a desire to show their respect for Russia for taking the path of democratic development and market transformation. It was an encouragement, a great advance for Moscow to truly become part of the civilized world community. But as it turned out, the advance offer was never justified.
First of all, when Russia was admitted to the Group, it did not meet the requirements set for the members of the club
Therefore, because of the aggression against Ukraine, namely the annexation of Crimea, Russia was excluded from the Group of Seven. And there is no reason to return it to the club now.
Putin looks much more in harmony with the G20, as the group represents leaders of countries with a dubious rating of democratic freedoms and whose economies are developing dynamically. In fact, that is why the Russians didn't seek to return, they didn't ask to be accepted back to the Group of Seven. On the contrary, they've been trying to demonstrate that it was not interesting to them.
Why do Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron find it necessary and appropriate to return Russia to the G7? There is a strange thing about Trump: he likes authoritarian or totalitarian leaders. In particular, he respects Kim Jong-un, sympathized with Erdogan until the trade wars began, and Ankara aggressively pursued a desire to acquire Russia's S-400 air defense systems against the warnings of Washington and other NATO Allies. In addition, the U.S. seeks to have a good relationship with Russia.
Macron also acts somewhat irrationally. He respects Russia, calling it a great European country, with European culture and mentally that must be part of the European space. But if Russia is part of this space, then Europe in its present form will simply cease to exist because Putin's Russia is a country that does not value freedoms but suppresses them, which we have recently seen in the streets of Moscow. The Russian capital is only good at building barracks for its military and detainees...
Therefore, because of the aggression against Ukraine, namely the annexation of Crimea, Russia was excluded from the Group of Seven. And there is no reason to return it to the club now
It's good that there came counter-arguments on the part of Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson, who clearly stated that they saw no reason to return Russia to G7. Merkel remains an outpost that has united Europe around it and forced some countries to take the course of punishing Russia for destroying the world order and committing crimes against Ukraine. In turn, Johnson has always been a Russia critic, even before his premiership. And, of course, he cannot forget and cross out the use of weapons of mass destruction in the United Kingdom for the purpose of killing a former intelligence officer and his daughter. This story will long poison the relations between London and Moscow.
No statement has been made by Canada yet, but I have no doubt that this country will also be against Russia's return to the G7.
Therefore, I am sure that Russia will not return to G7. First, it’s not a place where it belongs. Second, it did nothing to fix its crimes and to remove the subject matter of the claims put forward against it.
Does this story mean that the U.S. and France are ready to "forgive" Russia the Crimea annexation? When the USSR conquered the Baltic States in late 1939, Secretary of State Sumner Welles issued a declaration that set out a policy of non-recognition of this illegal annexation for 50 years. It was a document similar to the current Pompeo Memorandum, which enshrined the U.S. position on non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea. This did not prevent the Americans from later cooperating with Moscow, however, without questioning their disagreement with the aggressive policies and actions, since Washington, like any capital, is driven by its own national interests.
Therefore, the West will not give up on basic things, that is, the non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea, as long as Ukraine says that this peninsula is its territory that should return to its jurisdiction. If Russia violates the UN Charter, the OSCE Final Act and other documents like the Budapest Memorandum, it is already a crime and a violation. To agree with this will mean to agree with other things that Russia or other countries do. For example, the deployment of troops into Kashmir by India or the breach of the Hong Kong-China agreement by China. The same can happen with Taiwan – China may try to annex this territory, and the U.S. will defend this country. That is, the West cannot create a precedent that will help other similar situations occur, which in turn may cause global conflict, not just regional friction.
Ukraine's reaction may have come a bit late
Ukraine's reaction to the debate over Russia's return to the G7 was correct. It was a right thing for Zelensky (without Poroshenko's pathetic rhetoric) to first of all remind of Crimea, over the annexation of which the Russian Federation was expelled from the club. Considering that Ukraine is not a member of G7 and cannot influence its decision, he tactfully formulated the opinion that there was no reason to return Russia until it fixed what caused the expulsion from this club.
Although, Ukraine's reaction may have come a bit late. This can be explained by the fact that the parliamentary pseudo-coalition that existed in Ukraine recently refused to appoint a foreign minister and Mr Klimkin went on leave. Thus, we actually have no foreign policy chairman, which, of course, influences the ability of the executive branch to respond to the unfolding developments promptly. Of course, this does not absolve Zelensky of responsibility, because foreign policy is an area for which the president is responsible. But he lacks the tools because the MFA is beheaded, which affects the functioning of the system.
Moscow did not hesitate to comment on the statement of the Ukrainian president. The Russian Foreign Ministry, in the person of its spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, responded to Volodymyr Zelensky, but in such a form that it looked like another demonstration of arrogance and brazenness. Perhaps the phrase about Russia's presence on the international agenda was not entirely accurate, since Russia is part of the UN Security Council and the G20, but in its essence, the statement was correct, reflecting Ukraine's position and objective reality. As the Arabic saying goes, the dogs bark but and the caravan moves on. So let Russian propaganda talking heads "bark", while we just do our job.
Oleksandr Khara is an expert with the Maidan Foundation for Foreign Affairs Foundation