U.S. President Donald Trump’s pitch to re-invite Russia to the G7 got a swift thumbs-down from fellow world leaders on Monday.
The U.S. president, who is hosting the next gathering of leaders from major industrial nations, suggested Saturday the group ought to expand to include Russia, India, Australia and South Korea. The current members include Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada. “I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump said.
The G7 nations agreed to suspend Russia’s membership in what was then the G8 after Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014. Readmission would require unanimous support among members of the current group.
Trump spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday. According to a readout from the White House, “the two leaders discussed progress toward convening the G7,” among other subjects.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has occasionally been an ally of Trump’s, but his spokesperson told journalists on Monday that he would veto any plan to readmit Russia.
The U.K. could only change its view if Russia “ceases aggressive and destabilizing activity that threatens the safety of U.K. citizens and the collective security of our allies,” the spokesperson said.
Johnson “is unlikely to be pushed around by anyone on this,” a senior British diplomat told POLITICO. The U.K. has taken a tougher stance against Moscow since blaming Russia for the 2018 nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Salisbury, England.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also told reporters Monday that Russia should not be welcomed back. “Its continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms is why it remains outside of the G7 and it will continue to remain out,” said Trudeau.
This is the third time Trump has urged that Putin be allowed back in the forum. Ahead of the 2018 G7 summit, hosted by Trudeau in Canada, Trump called for Russia’s reinstatement into the group. He repeated that call in 2019, when only Italy supported the idea of extending an invitation to Putin.
Trump’s suggestion to expand the group piggybacks on a British proposal to form a “D10” alliance of democracies to coordinate policy in the face of global concerns about China, from the role of Huawei in 5G networks to China’s handling of the coronavirus.
An Australian government spokesperson said Sunday that “Australia would welcome an official invitation” the group. “Strengthening international cooperation among like-minded countries is valued at a time of unprecedented global challenges.”
India has not responded to the suggestion that it join the G7, but its leader attended the G8 summit in 2005, at the request of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
European officials have expressed concern to POLITICO that under Trump, there has been very little of the traditional preparation that precedes the annual G7 summit, including detailed discussion about the agenda and often intensive negotiation over the drafting of formal conclusions. Those negotiations are expected to be particularly tough given Trump’s divergence from the others on a number of issues, especially trade and climate change.
Charlie Cooper and Andy Blatchford contributed reporting.