Not content with just starting a trade war with America’s supposed allies, Donald Trump risked enraging G7 allies further by suggesting that Russia should be reinstated as a member.
“It used to be the G8 because Russia was in it and now Russia’s not in it,” Trump told reporters before departing for the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada. “I have been Russia’s worst nightmare…but with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?”
“We have a world to run,” Trump helpfully went on to explain. “In the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out, they should let Russia come back in.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 8, 2018
Russia’s membership in the G8 was suspended in 2014, after it illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine. In a joint statement, then-President Barack Obama and other world leaders condemned Russia’s actions as “violat[ing] the principles upon which the international system is built.”
Trump’s musings about re-admitting Russia are sure to further irritate other members of the G7, many of whom have had to deal with Kremlin-related meddling over the last year. In March, the U.K. accused the Kremlin of using a deadly nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy on British soil. Meanwhile, both France and Germany have had with Russia meddling in their recent elections.
But Trump is also directly contradicting his own campaign. On the National Security and Defense section of his “Promises Kept” website, the Trump re-election campaign highlights nearly two-dozen separate actions the Trump administration has taken against Russia “to punish those who seek to undermine American democracy and stability.” They include a “powerful sanctions regime,” “increased funding for the European Deterrence Initiative” and “onsite cyber-security support” during State elections.
The U.S. also recently sold American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian military, to help combat the pro-Russian separatists who have been active in the east of the country since Russia annexed Crime in 2014. More than 10,000 people have died in the conflict, including nearly 3,000 civilians. Russia continues to support the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Trump will arrive at the summit in Canada having engaged in a war of words with both Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron. Some reports indicated that Trump was looking to pull out altogether, while Trump spent Friday morning tweeting about how “unfair” the current trade deals were. On Thursday, Macron threw down a gauntlet to Trump, saying that the rest of the G7 had no problem negotiating without him.
“The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be,” Macron tweeted. “Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”