This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that readmitting Russia into the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized nations without resolving the Ukraine crisis would be a “strategic error” and underscore the “weakness” of the grouping.
“I think to say that without any conditions Russia can return to the table would be signing off the weakness of the G7,” Macron said on August 21, ahead of a summit in the southern French resort town of Biarritz this weekend.
“It would be a strategic error for us and the consecration of this age of impunity,” he told reporters in Paris.
Russia was expelled from the old G8 format after invading and then annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014. Moscow is also backing separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.
All the remaining member states of the grouping — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States — have imposed sanctions against Moscow aver its actions in Ukraine.
“The divorce was enacted when Ukraine was invaded,” Macron said. “The indispensable precondition is that a solution is found concerning Ukraine.”
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said that progress would be needed on Ukraine before Russia could return.
Johnson also pointed to other provocations from Russia, such as the poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Britain last year.
“Given what happened in Salisbury…given the use of chemical weapons on British soil, given the continuing instability, the civil war in Ukraine, given Russia’s provocation not just in Ukraine but in many other places…the case has yet to be made out for Russia to return to the G7,” he said.
However, President Donald Trump on August 20 said he was in favor of letting Russia back in to the exclusive group when the United States hosts the event next year
“I could certainly” support that, Trump told reporters at the White House. “It’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia.”
Trump said that “if somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably,” regarding the inclusion of Russia in the group.