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May 11, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6426

Renowned Russian Intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov On Valdai Discussion Club Website: 'The End Of The G8 Era: Russia Does Not Need Western Hierarchy'

May 11, 2016
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 6426

On April 12, 2016, the website of the pro-Kremlin think tank Valdai Discussion Club published an article by Fyodor Lukyanov, academic director of the Valdai Discussion Club, chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal. In his article, titled "The End of the G8 Era: Russia Does Not Need Western Hierarchy," Lukyanov argues that there is no reason to revive the G8 after Russia's 2014 suspension from it following the Russian annexation of Crimea. Noting that "the G8 reflected a certain period of history when Russia really wanted to be integrated into the so-called Extended West," he adds that since Russia's suspension from the G8, it has become clear that Russia does not "fit into the Western community."

Lukyanov says that the "mismatches of opinions" and "diplomatic clashes" between Russia and the West began long before the Ukrainian crisis brought the differences to a "climax," putting an end to the previous relationship. According to Lukyanov, the G7 is again a more "intuitive format," forming a "club of Western countries."

In an interview with the German newspaper Bild that was published January 12, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia had never become "a full-fledged G8 member, since there were always separate negotiations among the foreign ministers of the other seven countries." He added that while Russia was part of the G8, its presence was "useful," since it provided an "alternative view" on issues under discussion.[1]

On April 13, 2016, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow believes that it is inappropriate to set any sort of conditions for Russia to return to the G8: "Lately, we've often heard statements about certain 'criteria' for Russia's return to the G8. Until recently, the requirements amounted to 'complete fulfilment' of the Minsk Package of Measures on settling the Ukrainian crisis, although this is primarily the responsibility of the Kiev authorities. Now new requirements are being added: Russia is supposed to conform to certain conditions in connection with the developments in Syria and even Libya," she said, adding, "The way this issue is raised is obviously absurd. The G8 ceased to exist at the desire of our Western partners, who opted to search for instruments of unilateral pressure on Russia in connection with Ukraine's deep crisis, which they provoked themselves. A tangible reduction in the international weight of the Western G7 was a consequence of this decision."[2]

On May 6, 2016, Putin met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Sochi; the meeting was important, since the G7 is scheduled to meet in member-country Japan at the end of the month. Bilateral Russia-Japan meetings continue to take place on the sidelines of international gatherings, such as the September G20 summit and the November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.[3] On April 19, 2016, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stressed that the possibility of Russia returning the G8 is not on the agenda, and that Russia is more interested in cooperation with the G20 than with the G8.


Fyodor Lukyanov (Source: Valdaiclub.com) 

Following are excerpts of Lukyanov's article:[4]  

"It Became Clear A Long Time Ago That Russia Did Not Fit Into The Western Community"


Source: Valdaiclub.com, April 12, 2016. 

"On April 10, 2016, on the eve of the G7 foreign ministers meeting, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced the possible return of Russia to the G8. He stressed that 'no serious international conflict can be resolved without the participation of Russia'... The very fact that the question was raised about the reestablishment of the G8 means a change of the atmosphere in the world. This confirms that the acute rejection of Russia by the West, which began with the Ukrainian crisis, is gradually being replaced by an understanding of the need to restore the channels of cooperation and communication.

"But here the question arises: how to open a new page in relations with Russia? Statements by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggest rather a lack of imagination and of real understanding of what is happening among the Western leaders. After all, the prospects of a G8 reconstruction are practically impossible, and, most importantly, there is simply no need for it.

"The G8 reflected a certain period of history when Russia really wanted to be integrated into the so-called Extended West. Why it did not happen? Did something go wrong? This is another topic. The most important thing is that it did not happen at all. It became clear a long time ago that Russia did not fit into the Western community. The mismatches of opinions [and] diplomatic clashes between Russia and the West began long before the Ukrainian crisis. The latter has just brought the differences to a climax, putting an end to the previous relationship. 

"The G7... Has Now Returned To A More Consistent And Intuitive Format - The Club Of Western Countries"

"When, in the 1990s, Russia was admitted to the G8, it seemed that this membership would not mean just a participation in yet another club, but a strategic decision aimed at the future. However, the desirable future did not come, and probably won't. It is obvious now that the world does not develop in the direction of the Western model. So, now we have what we have, and there is no reason to restore the G8. The G7 does not need this, it has now returned to a more consistent and intuitive format - the club of Western countries. Why there was Russia [in the G8], no one could ever clearly explain. It is not necessary for Russia. It is clear that this club will never be a 'world government,' as once they have planned. These are powerful countries, that have a great influence on the global situation, but they are incapable of deciding the fate of the world inside their inner circle.

"Talking hypothetically about a global governing body, we can be sure that these are not G7 or G8 - it is certainly the G20. It is more representative and thus more legitimate. The G20 includes countries that have, so to say, stakes in the global governance system. Russia needs to remain in the G20 and to work actively with other BRICS[5] and Western countries. This is the future. Trying to use the re-establishment of the G8 as an instrument of pressure on Russia is meaningless. What role Russia will play there? No one understands.

"Russia should not make any effort to return to the G8... This does not mean that Russia should be at enmity with the West, but [that] the system of relations is to be changed. Russia should not try to fit into the Western hierarchy."


Endnotes: 

[1] En.kremlin.ru, January 12, 2016. It should be noted that the Putin interview published by Bild (Bild.de) differs slightly from the one published by the Kremlin website.

[2] Mid.ru, April 13, 2016.

[3] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6423, Russia This Week - May 2-9, 2016, May 9, 2016.

[4] Valdaiclub.com, April 12, 2016. The original English has been lightly edited for clarity.

[5] BRICS - the group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, whose creation was initiated by Russia. See: En.brics2015.ru.

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