President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte want Russia back in the G7. Both made separate announcements today regarding letting the Kremlin get back into the group right before the meetings started in Quebec. Trump’s comments were at the White House before he headed to the gathering (via The Hill).

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn before leaving for Canada to attend the G-7 summit, Trump said he has been “Russia’s worst nightmare” but argued the country should be a part of the economic talks.

“With that being said, Russia should be in this meeting,” he said. “Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?”

Russia was ousted from the then-Group of Eight in 2014 in order to punish Moscow for annexing Crimea and supporting pro-Kremlin separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,” Trump said. “And in the G-7, which used be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

Conte’s announcement was actually on Twitter and included a screenshot of Trump’s proclamation.

I’m a little amused Trump said, “We have a world to run,” for the simple reason it’ll make those who believe he’s some kind of isolationist lose their minds (and probably those in the conspiracy theory world too). The summit itself has grown from an informal meeting between world leaders to some sort of grand pomp and circumstance ceremony and working group which may or may not come up with anything productive. Whether something of actual importance comes out the meeting is going to be anyone’s guess. Maybe I’m a little bit cynical, but something tells me most of the politicking will happen in individual meetings between small groups of presidents and prime ministers. Or their advisers.

For those wondering why Russia isn’t part of this select group, it’s because they were kicked out over the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Trump’s statement is going to fly real well with French PM Emmanuel Macron who intimated the U.S. didn’t need to be involved in the G7 meeting for it to succeed. Here’s The Hill’s write up of yesterday’s news conference involving Macron and Trudeau.

“The six countries of the G-7 without the United States, are a bigger market taken together than the American market,” Macron said during a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa. “There will be no world hegemony if we know how to organize ourselves. And we don’t want there to be one.”
Macron added that other nations don’t mind if the U.S. goes its own way.

“Maybe the American president doesn’t care about being isolated today, but we don’t mind being six, if needs be,” Macron said.

This strikes me as bluster. I don’t expect the G7 to suddenly become the G6 (although you never know) and, as stated before, I don’t think big, gratuitous ceremonial meetings completely solve any problem, but actually exacerbate them. There’s nothing stopping the U.S. from still having a relationship with all the other countries anyway or individual businesses doing trade with other businesses in foreign countries. Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. would still be able to sell their wares in London if all of a sudden the U.S. was removed from the G7 and all trade with other countries stopped – albeit probably on a black market and at extremely inflated prices. After all, America did an excellent job of keeping people from getting alcohol during Prohibition and no one has ever, ever gotten ahold of drugs on the black market since they were banned. Please note my heavy sarcasm.

Trump’s suggestion isn’t really flying well with the UK or certain Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. and it’s unlikely they’ll be let back in the G7. I actually think Russia should rejoin the group because it’s not like kicking them out has really done anything. It’s like with sanctions: they only end up hurting those they don’t intend to. I understand why they were kicked out (Putin is scum) but there’s nothing wrong with talking with him and trying to convince him being an autocrat isn’t the best idea. After all, alienation of Russia has gone so well and really eased global tensions (note sarcasm).