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How Russia and Iran dominated the G7 Summit

Despite the fact that Russia and Iran were not invited as official participants, they were the main topic of discussion at the G7 summit, the author points out. Regarding the idea of ​​inviting the president of the Russian Federation to the next meeting of the Seven, he cites the opinion of Jack Matlock, the US ambassador to the USSR: “Putin should refuse to participate if he is not invited on equal terms with the others.”

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Today in French Biarritz the three-day summit of the G7 countries, which includes the most developed countries of the world: France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, Great Britain and the United States, has ended. The summit was attended by President of the Council of the European Union Donald Tusk along with a list of heads of state invited by G7 participants.

This year the summit fell on a difficult period for all key participants. The approval ratings for the summit’s chairman, French President Emmanuel Macron, range between 30% after his response to the yellow vest movement. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was embroiled in a corruption scandal.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is waging a trade war with South Korea. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that this will be her last term in office, and now she is trying to prepare herself a successor. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned a few days before the summit and attended it as an acting. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent only a month at his post, and in October he will have to deal with Brexit without a deal. And President Donald Trump, wherever he goes,

The weekend’s loudest headlines were dedicated to the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the invitation of the French government. This surprised many in the United States, as in recent months there has been an increase in tensions with Iran, which barely escaped war. Zarif himself fell under sanctions.

“If the French really invited Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to the G7 without consulting the United States, that would be a sign of Iran’s great weakness and would be extremely disrespectful to President Trump. I hope that President Trump is still strongly opposed Iran’s aggression, ”tweeted South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, an influential haunt of Trump’s shadow cabinet, on Twitter.

“This is a complete disrespect for @realDonaldTrump and other G7 leaders. Iran, at every opportunity, supports terrorism and continues to follow the slogan “Death to America.” From Macron’s side, this was a manipulation and a very insincere act, “Nikki Haley, former US envoy to the UN, agreed.

When Trump was asked about this during a press conference, he said that he knew about this invitation, and that it was by no means a sign of disrespect. “President Macron asked for my approval. We have a very good relationship, ”he told reporters.

“It was really stupid of them to say such things on their [Hailey and Graham] side,” said Barbara Slavin, director of the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative. “Obviously, Macron had warned Trump in advance about Zarif’s visit. He wouldn’t strike him with such an unexpected blow. I think it means that the two you mentioned are not versed in the matter. Trump is an independent person. He will do what he wants. ”

Daniel DePetris of Defense Priorities believes that criticizing Iranian hawks inside the country boils down to idle chatter. “I think this is a mock indignation. In many ways, it is designed to achieve domestic political goals. “I think that in the case of the Iranians, we dug a hole for ourselves, and instead of getting out of it, we dig deeper,” he told The National Interest. “I think Macron has done Trump a favor, inviting Zarif to Biarritz. Obviously, Trump did not meet with Zarif this time, but the fact is that he is open for communication, including with President Rouhani, and perhaps they will meet at the General Assembly next month. ”
President Trump confirmed this weekend that he is interested in new talks with the Iranian government without any preconditions.

“There is one more thing that we should mention – it’s great that Macron showed that the US sanctions against Zarif were meaningless in many ways, useless and counterproductive. Zarif moves freely around the world, he is going to see the rest, so it is obvious that no one paid attention to these US sanctions against Zarif, ”added Slavin.

Another key player in the G-7 was someone who was not there at all: Russia, which was expelled from the G-8 after the annexation of Crimea by Moscow in 2014.

Jack Matlock, US ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, explained the context of the situation when Russia was expelled from the then G8: “It was a reaction to the situation in Ukraine, which was, in general, an internal affair of Ukraine. Russia would not have acted this way if there had been no attempts to bring Ukraine into NATO and the EU without Russia.

This was considered extremely provocative, and, of course, what happened in Ukraine was a tragedy, at least for Ukraine, but it was caused by Russia’s reaction to Western politics, ”he told National Interest.

Presidents Trump and Macron both advocated the inclusion of Russia next year in the summit to be held in the United States. This has sparked criticism at the international level, including from the UK, Canada and the European Union, and from American critics of President Trump.

“Since the United States has taken responsibility for organizing and holding the next G7 summit, it is terrible that President Trump seems obsessed with inviting Vladimir Putin to negotiations again, while Russia continues to forcibly occupy Crimea, intervenes in our elections and initiates a new race weapons.

If Russia is allowed to return to the G7, it will be a sign of President Trump’s weakness in the face of Putin and his oligarchs and will make the United States less protected, ”Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.

Stephen Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Russian Studies and Politics at New York and Princeton Universities, believes that expelling Russia from Western organizations will not weaken its geopolitical influence.

“Historically, the West, especially the United States, made many attempts to“ change the behavior of Russia. ”And I don’t remember that they ever succeeded, except when these attempts took the form of a carrot (deterrence) rather than a stick (cold) war). So it seems to be just stupid,” he said.

“I used to think it was a mistake,” Matlock agreed. – It seems to me that the absence of Russia in the negotiations harms the institution itself. It seems to me that everyone was convinced that it was a mistake to believe that this would somehow affect her foreign policy.”

When it came to the fact that Trump could call Putin to the summit next year, neither Depetris, nor Matlock, nor Cohen began to attach great importance to this. Depetris emphasized that the G7 is more of a show than a really important event, and that Russia does not need to be a participant for Trump to meet with Putin. Matlock said Putin should refuse to participate if he is not invited on equal terms with the rest.

The outrage of the media that might trigger such a visit is a bleak prospect for Cohen. International visits by Russian and Soviet leaders were once in the order of things, and now have become politically toxic.

“There was a time when a successful East and West summit with the participation of a Soviet or Russian leader gave an advantage in the elections. Because in this way you would say to people: “I am saving Europe from nuclear weapons, I am keeping the peace, I am reducing the nuclear threat, we have new arms control agreements.” This world no longer exists,” Cohen warned.

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