- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2019

President Trump is ready to welcome them back, but Russian officials reacted warily to talk of rejoining the Group of Seven club of leading industrial powers.

Mr. Trump floated the idea again of inviting Russia into the G-7 in remarks in the Oval Office Tuesday, saying President Obama got “outsmarted” by the Kremlin and pushed to have Moscow ousted from what was then the G-8. Russia was ejected in the aftermath of its invasion and eventual annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday the Kremlin would need a far more concrete proposal before even considering whether it wanted to rejoin the exclusive club.

“It is necessary to move the discussion from the sphere of public entertainment to the professional [sphere] if the [G-7] wants to position itself as a serious format,” she told reporters in Moscow.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian foreign affairs panel in the upper house of parliament and a longtime leading voice on foreign policy matters, said Moscow should be wary of rejoining the group if it finds itself isolated among the Western industrial democracies.

“I think Russia’s return would make sense only if it’s possible to avoid the ‘seven against one’ trap,” Mr. Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page, according to a report in the Moscow Times. The lawmaker suggested that India and China should also be considered for membership to provide balance.

Mr. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, who will host the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France at end of the week, discussed the idea of Russian membership Tuesday. But a French official said Mr. Macron — who talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday — remains opposed to letting Russia back into the G-7 before there is progress on the crisis in Ukraine.

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