'Gulf Stream' returns to Russia-West relations

Mikhail Simonov, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
'Gulf Stream' returns to Russia-West relations

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed a proposal by French colleague Emmanuel Macron to invite Russia to the G7 summit in 2020 in the United States. "I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8," Trump said after talks with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Washington.

Thus, the high reception accorded to Russian President Vladimir Putin by Macron was underlined not only by ethical standards or personal deeply respectful attitude of one leader to another, but also was an indicative step towards the full restoration of relations between the West and Russia. Emmanuel Macron’s compliments turned out to be not only of diplomatic nature, not to mention his wife Brigitte's words to Putin: “You should remain [the leader of the state] longer”, but they were also dictated by the French side’s sincere desire to restore interstate relations, or even bring them to a higher level.

The speed at which the U.S. responded to the proposal of Paris to return Russia to the "high society" and supported it, suggests a coherence. Moreover, if we recall the certain discrepancies between the United States and France. These are not the most unconditional allies on a number of fundamental issues.

Officially, the issue of Russia’s return to the G7 will obviously be raised at a summit to be held this weekend in the French city of Biarritz. According by a number of comments, Trump will voice it himself, who was kinda talkative after the mentioned meeting with Iohannis, commenting on Macron's initiative.

The U.S. leader, in fact, attributed the absence of Russia in the G7 to the former leaders of the states that are members of this "honorary club." And more precisely - to his predecessor Barack Obama, saddened by the fact that Putin outsmarted him.

“I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. If someone would make that motion, I would be disposed to think about it favourably,” Trump said, noting that a lot of the things the G7 talk about have to do with Russia. “It should be the G8,” Donald Trump stressed.

By the way, it's not the first time he has responded to the situation with such intonations. For example, at the G7 summit in Quebec, according to the U.S. president, they spend probably 25 percent of time at the summit talking about Russia. “Russia should be in the meeting, should be a part of it,” Trump said. At a dinner with the G7 foreign ministers, he admitted that the West’s conflict with Russia is essentially meaningless, since Crimea is part of Russia because everyone there speaks Russian.

Another Trump’s landmark statement, which testified to a change in attitude towards Moscow, was something like this: if Vladimir Putin was at the G7 summit, then he could ask him to "do things that are good for the world.”

And, probably, Trump’s assessment of his last personal meeting with Putin at the G20 in Japan this June can be considered concrete evidence of the upcoming change of scenery. At the conclusion of the negotiations, the U.S. president told reporters: "He [Vladimir Putin] is a great guy!" Nevertheless, one probably should not assume that all disagreements between Russia and the West remain in the past.

Macron called the termination of the war in Donbass a condition for the restoration of the G8: "The situation in Ukraine is an irritant. In effect, the resolution of this conflict is a magic wand that will open the door for Russia to return to the G7 club, and the G7 can turn into the G8. I believe that efforts to find a way out of this situation meet the interests of absolutely all countries."

However, it seems that the situation in Ukraine can be used by the West as a lever for exerting some pressure on Russia in the future for a long time. As follows from Trump's words on Crimea, no one expects Moscow to suddenly change their mind and return the peninsula to the jurisdiction of Kiev. Last year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted that Donald Trump views Moscow’s return to the international community as “inevitable” without giving Crimea back to Ukraine, which return to Russia is still considered illegal by the West, An d it will be this way for a very long time.

Kiev’s unconvincing and inconsistent policy, its unwillingness to compromise and corruption of the former leadership undoubtedly contributed to a certain transformation of the West’s attitude to the Ukrainian issue and, as a consequence, towards Moscow. It is worth recognizing that the world community as a whole has long moved away from a policy of principled position to a policy of its own interests. And now it is more advantageous for them  to see Russia as its partner, and not as a state to impose sanctions on which, and which also responds with reciprocal sanctions. And now Rome has declared that Russia's return to the G8 is in the common interest.

Russia's position on this issue is absolutely clear. At a meeting with Macron, Putin said that "we do not reject anything". "It was Russia’s turn to host a G8 summit, but our partners did not come. We look forward to seeing our partners anytime, but within the G7 framework,” the Russian leader said.

Perhaps, in this connection, it is worth recalling a recent statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “We never asked them for return. When it was decided by our partners to abandon the G8, and they returned to the G7, we took it as their solution. And we're fine working in other formats - the SCO, the BRICS, and especially the G20, where our approaches are shared,” the minister said.