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Last Monday saw Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump have a telephone conversation. As the Kremlin press service reported earlier, the two leaders noted the importance of activating the Russian-American strategic stability dialogue and confidence-building measures in the military sphere, and agreed to continue bilateral contacts at various levels. Among other things, Putin and Trump discussed cooperation in space and energy, as well as the fight against coronavirus.
Apart from that, President Trump informed Vladimir Putin about his idea of holding a G7 summit with a possible engagement of Russia, Australia, India and the Republic of Korea. "I don't feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries," Trump told reporters. In this regard, the American leader proposed to establish an expanded group called the "Group of ten" or "Group of eleven" and suggested the summit be held the weekend before or after the UN General Assembly meeting due around September 20.
Let us remark here that the world is now actively discussing the subject of the upcoming G7 summit at Camp David. Moreover, politicians and experts differ on one and the same thing – whether Trump should invite the Russian President or not. For instance, Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Canada Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau are adamantly opposed to the idea of Trump's inviting Vladimir Putin to the summit.
In turn, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel, whose representatives are usually invited to G7 summits, said that as the current G7 chairman, the US is enabled to send out invitations to the summit but has no right to change its format. Official Tokyo spoke very carefully about Trump's initiative to invite Vladimir Putin to the summit. In particular, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu said the following: "Dialogue and negotiations with the Russian Federation are needed so that it could play a constructive role in solving international problems."
It should be emphasized that some experts refer to the Group of Seven as a kind of "friends club" of the United States. But, as we can see, American friends do not always agree with Washington's opinion and are ready to argue with it, especially when it comes to Russia. And here President Trump, who advocates improving relations with Moscow, does not apparently carry any weight with them.
Let us recall that in 1997, Russia was admitted to the group of seven developed economies of the world, whose members were the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, but then, after the 2014 annexation of Crimea, it was excluded from the G8. Since his coming to power in 2017, President Trump has repeatedly insisted on Russia's return to the Group of Seven, raising this issue at previous summits, but each time other leaders have rejected this idea. And today the issue has once again made it into the agenda to cause a fierce argument.
Earlier, Moscow has repeatedly stated that Russia's engagement in the Group of Seven is not an end in itself, and that it does not particularly seek to become part of it, preferring cooperation within the G20 format. As for the possible invitation of Vladimir Putin to the G7 summit in the United States, Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov spoke about it yesterday. He particularly noted that there are a number of questions concerning the G7, like in what capacity Trump wants to invite Russia, what the agenda and the entry list are. At the same time, the Kremlin spokesman has stressed that "President Putin is a supporter of dialogue in all directions."
Peskov also pointed to the existence of mechanisms for international dialogue that are comfortable and effective to all the participants in the process. Among them he mentioned the G20 summit, where the world's leading economies can discuss the urgent agenda issues. According to Peskov, Russian and US diplomats will keep communicating to clarify the details of the Russian leader's invitation to the G7 summit.
In turn, Chairman of the Federation Council's Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev stressed that the initiative by Donald Trump indicates Washington's adequate assessment of the current situation on a global stage. At the same time, the senator believes that the G7 format is of little interest to anyone other than its direct participants. Kosachev added that Russia was invariably interested in receiving invitation to the event provided its participation as a full-fledged member of the negotiation process.
There is another important peculiarity in Trump's eagerness to invite Russia to the G7 summit, which just needs to be noted. The key conversation topic at Camp David will be "the future of China," the White House said. According to Alyssa Farah, who oversees strategic communications in the Trump administration, the suggestion was made to pull together "traditional allies" and talk about ways to act towards an increasingly powerful China. In short, inviting Russia to the G7 summit is about offering a hand of "friendship against Beijing", which Moscow has now developed a strategic partnership with.
It stands to reason that Russia will never do this, no matter what "carrot" is used to lure it to the G7 summit in the United States. Fittingly, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in this regard on Tuesday: "The idea of an expanded Group of Seven meeting marks a course in the right direction in principle, and yet it doesn't provide for genuinely universal representation. For example, it's obvious that any substantial ideas of global significance can hardly be implemented without China."