The United State President, Donald Trump has called for the inclusion of Russia back into the fold of the G-7 after it was kicked out in 2014 over the annexation of Crimea. Perhaps failing to impose sanctions on Russia over its election meddling was a tactical move to preserve his own political legacy. But failure to punish Russia for supporting Syria’s use of chemical weapons against civilians is a hard line to sell.
Trump who had boasted about taking a tough stance toward Russia and asserted that Putin would actually have preferred dealing with Hillary Clinton. That contradicts the conclusion of the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, reaffirming findings by American intelligence, that Russian interference in the 2016 election was primarily intended to benefit Trump.
“I love our country. I have been Russia’s worst nightmare. If Hillary got in — I think Putin is probably going, ‘Man, I wish Hillary won.’ Because you see what I do,” Trump had bragged.
Trump’s suggestion about allowing Russia to rejoin the G-7 drew swift reaction. Speaking to reporters at the venue of the summit in Canada, European Council President Donald Tusk quickly rejected the idea.
“Let’s leave seven as it is. It’s a lucky number,” said Tusk, who is the primary political representative of the European Union.
Even Russia itself seemed cool to the idea. “Russia is focused on other formats, apart from the G-7,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in short statement reported by the government-controlled Sputnik news agency.
Trump’s comments about returning Russia to the G-7 came amid heightened tension with American allies on trade. As part of his “America First” economic agenda, Trump has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on Canada, the European Union and Japan. In recent days, he has engaged in a war of words about the tariffs with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
As he left for the summit, which will take place on Friday and Saturday in Quebec, Trump said he “may leave a little bit early” for Singapore, where he will meet next week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. According to the White House, he will skip a Saturday session on climate change, where the U.S. has been at odds with the rest of the G-7 and the other signatories to the Paris climate agreement.
Trump also attacked members of the group for their trade policies.
“All of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade. You saw where Canada charges our dairy farmers 270 percent tariffs. We don’t charge them, or if we do it’s like a tiny percentage. So we … have to straighten it out,” said Trump. “We have massive trade deficits with almost every country.”
Trump predicted that “we will straighten that out” thanks to his negotiating prowess.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s what I do. It won’t even be hard, and in the end we’ll all get along,” Trump said.
Trump said America’s allies ignore trade imbalances, citing their cooperation with America on security matters.