- - Tuesday, September 17, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

At the August Group of Seven summit in France, President Trump suggested inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to the next such summit that the U.S. will be hosting in 2020. Mr. Trump added that Mr. Putin might decline the invitation “psychologically” since Russia was kicked out of the Group of Eight in 2014 for the annexation of Crimea.

Indeed, in June 2014, Mr. Putin was expecting the other seven leaders in Sochi for the G-8 summit, but they decided not to go, citing Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea (Moscow calls this peninsula’s “Return to the Homeland”) and met in Brussels without the Russian leader present. Thus, the G-8 turned into the G-7.

By the way, earlier in February of that year, Sochi was the venue of the spectacular Winter Olympic Games that many in the U.S. also advocated boycotting. At that time, Crimea was still a part of Ukraine, and the only pretext for a boycott was Russia’s allegedly poor treatment of its LGBTQ community.

So, how realistic is Mr. Trump’s idea of reviving the G-8?

I think it is not, and, moreover, I believe the G-7 is no longer important for the management of global affairs. First, there is a more substantive G-20 group, which lately became better equipped for this purpose.



At the same time, when it comes to the world’s security issues the more relevant entity would obviously be the G-5.

Before we go into its suggested structure, I want to bring to the reader’s attention a book by the retired Australian diplomat, Tony Kevin, “Return to Moscow.” Mr. Kevin was posted to Russia from 1969 to 1971 and was later Australia’s ambassador to Poland and Cambodia. In his book, Mr. Kevin made a deep analysis of all the standard Western accusations against Russia and Mr. Putin, including over Crimea, Ukraine, Syria, the downing of MH17, the Skripals, and a few other alleged misdeeds, which have been used as justification for Russia’s expulsion from the G-8 and for unloading an avalanche of sanctions intended to destroy Russia’s economy and eventually bring about regime change in Moscow.

Mr. Kevin meticulously studied each case and came to the conclusion that “We are now in the thick of a ruthless but mostly covert Anglo-American alliance information war against Russia.”

There are quite a few Western “dissidents” who share Mr. Kevin’s view, but those who conduct this war may not realize that, as Sen. Sam Nunn and many others keep warning, it slowly pushes us into a nuclear catastrophe.

Mr. Trump clearly understands such worries, and therefore I think this was the major reason he came up with the idea of reviving the G-8: to start a serious dialogue before it is too late.

It turns out that at the same time French President Emmanuel Macron made a major move on strengthening European ties to Russia and securing Moscow’s cooperation in international crises, including thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Speaking to a gathering of French ambassadors he said, “Pushing Russia away from Europe is a profound strategic error, because we will push Russia either into an isolation that increases tensions or into alliances with other great powers such as China. The European continent will never be stable or secure if we don’t pacify and clarify our relations with Russia.”

Taking into account that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is leaving the political arena soon, it is Mr. Macron who is quickly becoming a major spokesman for the European Union’s foreign policy. If Mr. Trump wins reelection in 2020, he and Mr. Macron would make a strong team to speak for the West with the three major Eastern players — China, Russia and India.

So, the real decision-making is about the G-5 listed above, and it could start planning its first summit in early 2021 after the U.S. elections, unless Mr. Trump decides that international stability is so shaky that the G-5 group should be convened as soon as possible.

Finally, the chances for Mr. Putin’s acceptance of an invitation to take part in the G-7 meeting in the U.S. next year are close to zero. However, if Mr. Trump, ideally jointly with Mr. Macron, issues an invitation to Mr. Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a G-5 meeting, all of them would undoubtedly accept.

If this meeting takes place before the November 2020 elections, it could bring Mr. Trump additional political points.

I believe the G-5 is the group of world leaders that humanity urgently needs today.

⦁ Edward Lozansky is president of the American University of Moscow.

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