In an unsigned article, titled "The Carrot And The Stick: Why Russia Was Beckoned To The G8 Following The Sanctions", Russian media outlet Gazeta.ru opined that the motivation behind French President Emmanuel Macron's and US President Donald Trump's ostensible support for restoring Russia to the G8 may be unpleasant for Moscow.
According to Gazeta.ru, Macron, plagued with domestic political problems, is trying to recoup his prestige in the foreign policy field. "The ability to somehow conduct a dialogue with Russia has now become an indicator of the 'ability to confront difficult tasks' for any major European politician. Russia has become such a political trump ace," Gazeta.ru stressed.
Trump, facing a new election campaign, is also intent on proving that he can negotiate with the most difficult partners "as a tough businessman". However – Gazeta.ru reminded - Russia's return to the G8 is contingent only upon the unanimous consensus of all the other "club" members.
Yet, Gazeta.ru argues that Russia does not need to return to the G8. "Finally, Russia, regardless of its presence or absence in the G8, is becoming the most important negotiating party for the West and even more so for the United States for another obvious reason. Let us call things by their names: the new 'cold war' led to the start of a new arms race," Gazeta.ru stated. The Russian media outlet concluded, sting that, one way or another, the West will have to discuss global security issues in the context of a new arms race with Russia - inside the G8 format or without it. "In this sense, Russia has already returned to the club of leading world powers," Gazeta.ru stressed.
It is worth noting that during a press conference with Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a response to the French President, commented on Russia's possible return to the G8: "As for the G8, which you mentioned, it does not exist. How can I return to an organization that does not exist? It is called the G7 today. Regarding a possible eight-country format, we do not reject anything. It was Russia’s turn to host a G8 summit, but our partners did not come. We look forward to seeing our partners anytime, but within the G7 framework."
Putin argued that the G7 framework had been superseded in the global economy by the much more representative G20. Putin stressed: "But there are other international organizations playing a noticeable and substantial role in international affairs. The G20, for example. They represent such major economic powerhouses as the People’s Republic of China, India and many others. In all, there are 20 such countries, and you know them well. They account for almost 90 percent of the global economy. In this connection, such full-format venues clearly play a noticeable and substantial role – that is an objective fact – and we are working actively there."
Below is Gazeta.ru's article:
Russia Has Become A Political Ace Of Trumps
"French President Emmanuel Macron, after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, wrote that Russia is a 'European' country and that he would like to see it in the 'Big Eight'. [In this respect], Macron was supported by US President Donald Trump. Does this mean that the West is really ready to change its attitude towards Russia, lift or ease the sanctions, forgive [Russia] for Crimea and for the Donbass, and restore [its] relations with Moscow [to the level] of 2013 at least?
"French President Emmanuel Macron is becoming 'Russia's main friend' in the big league of European politics. He has met on several occasions with the Russian president and in the last two years he has spoken with him even more frequently than with Angela Merkel, who has developed quite a warm human relation with Vladimir Putin. However, Macron as well believes that a return to the G8 format with Russia's participation depends on the situation in Ukraine. This was reported by Reuters, citing a source in the diplomatic circles. Therefore, we are talking about a return, but with loads of conditions.
"U.S. President Donald Trump said that he supports Russia's return to the G8, but he did it in his signature vague manner and so it's unclear what he exactly meant. 'I could definitely support that. It is much more appropriate to have Russia in it [in the G8 club]', he told reporters at the White House after talks with Romanian President Klaus Johannis.
"Translated in plain language, Trump said it was better for Russia to be in the G8 than to be absent from it. But it depends not only on Trump's position alone. In addition, such rhetorical gestures in favor of Russia are accompanied by the introduction of new sanctions - under Trump, more sanctions were introduced than under Obama.
"A new package of U.S. sanctions, this time concerning the 'Skripal case', came into force as recently as August 19.
"Although Trump chose the mildest of the proposed options, this sanctions package nonetheless includes a ban on the purchase of new dollar-denominated Russian government bonds by American investors. So far, sanctions against the Russian national debt have not been imposed.
"The reasons why Macron and Trump seemingly support Russia's return to an unofficial club of leading world powers (although the absence of China already makes this format less significant than the 'Big Twenty', where all the world's most influential countries are present) may not be too pleasant for Moscow.
"Macron is clearly failing in domestic politics, although he won the presidential election as a candidate who could shake up the elites and give France a new economic and political boost. Now the ambitious French President is trying to even the score in the foreign policy field, clearly trying to overtake Germany for the leadership of European politics at a moment of crisis in the EU with Great Britain's impending exit.
"The ability to somehow conduct a dialogue with Russia has now become an indicator of 'toughness' for any major European politician. Russia has become such an ace of trumps. At the same time, Macron's France is not altering its position on Ukraine and Crimea, and is one of the sharpest critics of Russian policy in Syria. And François Hollande, Macron's predecessor, who failed miserably in his one presidential term, had a no lenss intense dialogue with Putin.
"Donald Trump even now didn't hesitate to remind people that his predecessor Barack Obama wanted Russia to leave the G8, because Vladimir Putin was pursuing a more effective policy. 'I believe that President Obama – due to the fact that Putin outplayed him - thought, 'It's not good that Russia is in the G8', and therefore he wanted Russia to be excluded,' the US President said.
"During the last election campaign, Trump promised to get along with Putin, mercilessly criticizing Obama's inability to do so.
"Now Trump is in the midst of a new election campaign and he is clearly trying to show that he is able to negotiate with the most difficult partners 'as a tough businessman'.
"Trump's inconsistency, his ability to change positions to diametrically opposed ones and 'roll back' after harsh or conversely encouraging words against any politicians and countries has already become proverbial. In other words, the weight [attached to] any statements by the President of the United States is not very great.
"At the same time, Russia's return to the G8 is possible only with the consensus of all other members of the 'club' (our country, by the way, was not even excluded from the 'eight', [what happened was that] the other seven countries, in 2014, refused to go to the summit in Sochi, and thereby distanced themselves from Russia, after [the events] in Crimea). This agreed position has never been made explicit.
"On August 21, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, expressly spoke out against Russia's returning to the G8 for the time being.
"Merkel recalled that Russia was excluded from the club due to the situation in Ukraine, so the reconstruction of the G8, she said, would be possible only if significant progress would be achieved in implementation of the Minsk agreements. According to her, to date, the situation has only slightly changed.
"Boris Johnson said that 'the arguments in favor of Russia's return to the G7 have yet to be found.'
"'Regarding the issue of Russia's reintegration into the G7, I would like to say that, given what happened in Salisbury, Wiltshire County [the Skripal Affair], the use of chemical weapons on British soil, the ongoing instability, the civil war and the fighting in Ukraine, provocations that Russia is carrying out not only in Ukraine, but in many other places, I must say that I fully agree with the Chancellor,' he said.
"It is almost certain that Canada as well, whatever the government in power, will not support Russia's return to the G8: the Ukrainian diaspora is traditionally strong in this country. The position of Japan is also in question, since it had hoped somehow to achieve a breakthrough on the issue of Kuril Islands and may now be disappointed by the outcome of those negotiations.
The West Will Have To Discuss Global Security Issues In The Context Of A New Arms Race With Russia
"In any case, for now Russia's return to the G8 is unlikely. What seems more realistic is a scenario with more private contacts, including the ones at the highest level, between Russia and individual countries of the 'club'. Again, an important gesture in favor of Moscow will be the Macron and Trump's participation at the May 9, 2020 parade in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Victory - both politicians have [already] given their consent.
"But there is another side to the question: is it really important for Russia to return to the G8?
"The problems that Russia may encounter in the event of a return are obvious. One of them was indicated by the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky, who said that Russia could return to the G8 if 'it gives back the Crimean peninsula and ends the conflict in the Donbass.' On Thursday [August 22], the Ukrainian president held a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during which the interlocutors agreed about the impossibility of Russia's return to the G8, while allegedly 'it violates the norms of international law.'
"Additionally, Zelensky, who behaves as if Russia's return to the G8 depends on him, advised Moscow to release the detained Ukrainian sailors.
"By the way, their fate, according to diplomatic sources mentioned by a series of global media outlets, was discussed during the meeting between Macron and Putin on August 19. In other words, the G8 partners can jointly start to ask Russia for political concessions as a token of 'gratitude' for the return.
"In this case, against the backdrop of the sanctions stick, Russia's return to the club of leading world powers will become a kind of a carrot, but the West's goals West remain exactly the same as in the case of sanctions.
"Finally, Russia, regardless of its presence or absence in the G8, is becoming the most important negotiating party for the West and even more so for the United States for another obvious reason. Let us call things by their names: the new 'cold war' led to the start of a new arms race. The architecture of international security is destroyed; the United States and Russia withdrew from the Treaty on medium and short-range missiles and are actively testing the newest nuclear weapons.
"The United States have recently tested such weapons and this is why Russia and China demanded the convening of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. In turn, the U.S. military officially interpreted the recent explosion at the test site near Severodvinsk, in the Arkhangelsk region, as a failed test of a Burevestnik an unlimited range cruise missile (announced earlier by the Russian authorities), powered by a nuclear reactor.
"One way or another, the West will have to discuss global security issues in the context of a new arms race with Russia - inside the G8 [format] or without it.
"In this sense, Russia has already returned to the club of leading world powers. But this does not mean that the West will lift sanctions on us tomorrow or recognize Crimea. In any case, it is better for the parties to talk than wage a war of sanctions and compete in the tests for new weapons that can destroy each other in a matter of minutes."