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Lawmaker says without Russia G7 is 'club of US friends'

A Russian lawmaker comments on the remarks of the German top diplomat about the terms of Russia’s return to the G8

MOSCOW, August 31 /TASS/. The remarks of German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier about the terms of Russia’s return to the G8 indicate his recognition of the fact that without Russia G7 is nothing more than a club of friends of the United States, Alexey Pushkov, the head of the Russian State Duma Committee for International Affairs, said on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, the German foreign minister said progress on the settlement of the Ukrainian and Syrian crises was one of the conditions for the restoration of Russia’s G8 membership.

"Steimeier’s remarks reflect a desire of part of Western political circles to expand dialogue with Russia," Pushkov told TASS on Wednesday. "It is indicative of their understanding that major contemporary problems like the Syrian crisis, the Ukrainian problem, European security and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons cannot be resolved without Russia," Pushkov explained.

He added that the German foreign minister was one of those western politicians who regularly calls for restoring the G8 format by re-admitting Russia. Pushkov believes that the German foreign minister’s remarks reflect the realization of the fact that the G7 seriously restricts its potential without Russia. "It positions itself as a ‘club of friends of the United States’ and ,in this view, loses its global significance," Pushkov said.

What basis should be chosen for resuming that dialogue is a different thing, the Russian lawmaker said. "The recent G8 summits, in which Russia took part, showed that the (G8) format had been used predominantly as an instrument of exerting pressure on Russia. The situation developed according to the ‘seven vs. one’ scenario," the Russian deputy said.

"If the idea is to restore the mechanism of exerting pressure on Russia through the G8 membership, I do not think that it holds out a good promise," Pushkov warned adding that the G8 had outlived itself as a mechanism of putting up conditions and presenting various ultimatums to Russia. The lawmaker believes that the G8 should be able to coordinate the stances of its member states and search for compromises.

"The approach (of exerting pressure on Russia) caused a serious crisis inside the organization. As a result, Russia is no longer taking part in its work and is showing no great interest in resuming it in future," Pushkov stressed.

"It is a very big question if they are ready to work according to the new principles; on the basis of the balance of interests and a search for joint solutions. Except for Japan, we have not heard anything from the United States or other (G7) members that they were ready to change their previous approach," Pushkov concluded.