- President Donald Trump said Saturday that Russia would be an “asset” if it were allowed back into the G7.
- Russia was kicked out of the alliance in 2014 after it invaded Ukraine and annexed the territory of Crimea.
- Trump blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia’s actions, adding, “With that being said, it’s been done a long time.”
- Trump has long exhibited a fascination toward Russia, and there are several reasons why the president would want the Russian leader to have a seat at the table.
- Russia also has a lot to gain from the US’s increased isolation from its closest allies.
President Donald Trump doubled down Saturday on his earlier calls for Russia to re-join the G7.
“It has been discussed – some people like the idea of bringing Russia back in,” Trump told reporters in Quebec, Canada during the annual G7 summit. “This used to be the G8, not the G7, and something happened a while ago where Russia is no longer in.”
The president’s comments came after he first made the suggestion that Russia be allowed back into the alliance on Friday.
Russia was kicked out of the G7 when it invaded Ukraine and 2014 and annexed the territory of Crimea.
On Saturday, Trump blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia’s aggression toward its neighbour.
“Obama allowed Russia to take Crimea,” Trump said. “Why did he do that? With that being said, it’s been done a long time.”
He added that he believed it would be “an asset” for the G7 to bring Russia back into its fold.
“I think it would be good for the world, I think it would be good for Russia, I think it would be good for the United States,” Trump said. “I think the G8 would be better, I think having Russia back in would be a positive thing. We’re looking for peace in the world, we’re not looking to play games.”
Trump’s increasingly hostile posturing toward the US’s closest allies is sure to be exacerbated by his comments about Russia.
But as Business Insider’s Josh Barro pointed out, there are several reasons why the president would want the country back in the G7.
Among other things, Barro wrote, Russia was kicked out of the alliance under the Obama presidency and Trump enjoys undoing Obama’s actions; other G7 leaders have a few bones to pick with Trump that Russian President Vladimir Putin may not; Putin and other autocrats flatter Trump more than democratically elected leaders do; and with Putin at the table, it would take some of the heat off Trump.
Russia, meanwhile, has much to gain from Trump’s comments.
Putin’s foreign policy doctrine centres primarily around fracturing western alliances and driving a wedge between countries he sees as hostile to Russia’s goal of reverting to a Soviet-era world order.
For that reason, even if Russia is not ultimately allowed back into the G7, the Russian leader likely views the US’s increased isolation from its staunchest allies as a victory.
Trump’s press conference Saturday marked his first solo press conference since February 16, 2017.
He arrived at the summit Friday, as trade tensions between the US and its partners continue to mount, and he is set to depart the gathering early while other G7 members discuss how best to combat climate change.
Later, Trump will fly to Singapore where he is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.
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