Vladimir Putin has suggested that the G7 should expand to include Russia, India, China and Turkey.
While the Russian President’s suggestion is unlikely to gain much support – Russia was expelled from the bloc five years ago over its annexation of Crimea and there is little appetite for its return – he argued the organisation needed a broader base to be effective.
Speaking at an economic forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin said: “If you want to restore the G8, please come and do it.”
“I think everyone understands today, and President [Emmanuel] Macron has said recently in public that Western hegemony is over,” Putin said, referring to the French president.
“I cannot imagine an efficient international organisation that works without India and without China.”
While US President Donald Trump suggested last month that Russia should be allowed to rejoin the organisation, there was little support from the other members – Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan – and some analysts believe it is less relevant to today’s world.
This year’s Group of Seven gathering in Biarritz ended without a detailed consensus. Last year’s summit also ended acrimoniously when Trump left early and publicly insulted the host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
However, the most recent gathering did end with broad agreement on issues including reform of the World Bank; a summit meeting on Ukraine; and the importance of preserving the 1984 Sino-British declaration on Hong Kong – a call that Beijing rejected as interference in its internal affairs.
Wang Yiwei, a professor of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing, said that an experimental initiative inviting more countries into the G7 bloc would not be a problem for China, which was likely promote its compatibility with mechanisms such as the G20, of which it is a member.
“If Putin likes it, why not?” he said. “China at least would not openly disagree, given its close partnership with Russia and desire for developing countries to have more say on the world stage.
“But China does not want to enter into a group confrontation with the United States similar to the cold war era and does not want to be part of a bloc led by another country.”
Vasily Kashin, a senior research fellow at the National Research University in Moscow, said that Putin’s remarks were largely intended to send a message to Russia’s allies – in particular by highlighting the importance of Turkey by grouping it with Russia, China and India.
“Putin knows that there is no way China and India will be admitted into the group and even Trump’s statements about getting Russia back there are not taken really seriously here in Russia.
“It is seen just as empty talk, another unrealistic initiative which does not have any significant support outside of the US,” Kashin said.
“So Russia is just using it for rhetorical purposes, to show that it is ready to discuss anything and at the same time to boost the relations with the allies.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was also at the Eastern Economic Forum with Putin, responded to the proposal by saying that India favoured a multipolar world but did not directly support or reject the suggestion.
Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor in Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said that India had “guest” status in the G7, but that the expansion of the bloc was up to its members.
He also said that such a move would require a reciprocal measure, such as opening up the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – whose members include China, Russia and India – to Western nations, but added that he was “not sure if China or Russia are prepared for this”.
Source: South China Morning Post