Russian lawmaker and chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev said US President Donald Trump’s initiative to invite Russia, India, South Korea and Australia to the G7 will not give these countries equal status and decision making powers.
Speaking to a group of select journalists via video conference from Moscow, Kosachev said, “The problem with this invitation to the G7 format is that Mr Trump is extending it, and he doesn’t have the right to expand the forum. As host, he is free to invite anyone. But the summit will remain a G7 summit. In that format, none of the invitees will be able to participate in the event. We will just arrive there to witness our process, but no possibility to influence the outcome of the decisions.”
Trump’s G7 Invitation
Speaking to reporters last week, President Trump had said, “I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries.”
While India has accepted the proposal, Russia has rejected the idea of ‘isolating’ China.
“We have the privilege to be included but there are more countries that are influential and strong and should be part of any discussions. China is one example, specifically because I suspect Mr Trump’s intention to invite all of us is more about not inviting China. Mr Trump wants to get countries together to build a joint position on China. This is their current strategy. I am against building a bloc that is aimed at another country”, Konstantin Kosachev said.
Meanwhile, Kosachev added that Russia has asked for an explanation from Washington on what the new format of the G7 is going to be and the role of the new invitees. “We have not received any responses yet, so can’t make a final decision,” Kosachev added.
Opposition to Russia
There have been voices from the G7 bloc against the idea of Russia’s inclusion. In fact, the UK had put up a separate proposal of ten democracies (D10) coming together which is the Group of Seven (G7) and South Korea, India, and Australia. Canada has also rejected Trump’s idea of inviting Russia back to the G7.
“I do not see any unity in the positions of other countries. I haven’t seen comments concerning India but on Russia, we have heard from other members saying they don’t want Russia”, Konstantin Kosachev said.
Speaking on the issue of the ongoing India-China border standoff, Kosachev took the official line of the Russian government and said that they intend to stay out of “bilateral” issues.
“Our official position is that we keep these bilateral disputes bilateral. We respect the sovereignty of India and of China. Russia should not interfere in these disputes. Our role is to not get involved,” he said.
Taliban Peace Talks
Kosachev also emphasised the need to include India in all formats of talks with the Taliban. He expressed astonishment over the exclusion of India from discussions being held between the Taliban, the Afghan government and the US-appointed peacemaker.
“India is a neighbour state. India has a common border with Afghanistan. So, I am in favour of having India as a participant in the format. I am surprised if India is not invited, that is not a good move. I would recommend Russia to take steps to involve India as much as possible”, Kosachev said.
The Russian lawmaker asserted that the only solution to the Afghan problem is for the process to be led by Afghanis.
“The only solution is that nothing can be forced on people of Afghanistan, on different groups there. They are obliged to find a compromise on the future of their own country by themselves. Taliban is a difficult partner. In Russia, it is still classified as an extremist movement, it is prohibited. But at the same time, we are realists and we understand Taliban is an influential player in Afghanistan, so if you exclude them from the political dialogue you will not reach a solution”, Kosachev explained.
Advocating the need for multilateralism in this ever-changing global order, Konstantin Kosachev pushed for formats such as BRICS and SCO which he claims had more representation.
“Western exceptionalism is what they propagate. Now that there is competition, the US tries to create obstacles for others. One is not to transfer technology and introduce sanctions on goods transfer. Second, to isolate your competitors and paint them as evil. This is what they did with Russia, and now, what they are doing with China. American politicians even blame Russia for US protests”, he said.
On Russia-China ties, Kosachev said, “The anti-Russian campaign in the West has contributed to closer relations between Russia and China and the anti-China campaign in the West will have the same positive impact on our ties. Europe and the US try to sanction Russia, stop Russia, contain Russia. This is not the case with Russia-China relations.”