Why Russia won't be making it G8 anytime soon
By Diane Cooke
"G7 used to be G8, when Russia was included," Donald Trump informed reporters, just in case they weren't aware of that fact.
President Putin must have been clapping his hands like a performing seal as the President of the US sought to persuade leaders of the Group Seven rich nations that Russia should be around the negotiating table once more.
The group of seven are now more divided than at any time in their 42-year history, as Donald Trump's "America First" policies risk causing a global trade war.
Trump has threatened to use national security laws to do the same for car imports and has walked back on environmental agreements and an international deal to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has invested in a warm personal relationship with Trump, said the other G7 nations should remain "polite" and productive.
But he also warned that "no leader is forever," in a clear sign Europe has no intentions of surrendering to the US president.
European leaders say Russia's return to the G7 cannot happen unless substantial progress is made to resolve "problems" in Ukraine.
The decision to kick out Russia was in response to Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea in 2014, which was widely denounced as a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.
The Republic of Crimea, officially part of Ukraine, lies on a peninsula stretching out from the south of Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It is separated from Russia to the east by the narrow Kerch Strait.
In early 2014 Crimea became the focus of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, after Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was driven from power by violent protests in Kiev.
Kremlin-backed forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula, and the territory, which has a Russian-speaking majority, voted to join Russia in a referendum that Ukraine and the West deem illegal.
Much of the current tension between Russia and the west is a consequence of Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine. In truth, however, that deployment was a reaction to Putin’s own fears of growing western influence in eastern Europe.
Russia had long feared the possibility of a pro-democracy revolution on its own territory, having watched in horror as mass protests overthrew regimes in the former Soviet states of Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004 and Kyrgyzstan in 2005.
Putin and the state-controlled media depicted these movements as western conspiracies, CIA plots funded by George Soros. For Putin, they were threats to Russia’s regional authority and stability, which had already been ravaged by the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as threats to his personal power.