The G-8 Is Done With Putin

We’re back to the Group of Seven. For now.

Oxfam volunteers wearing caricature heads depicting (L-R) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, British Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin pose in golf clothing as part of their End Hunger campaign photocall on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.
National Journal
Matt Berman
March 24, 2014, 12:34 p.m.

The glob­al in­dus­tri­al­ized na­tions’ Su­per Friends are down a mem­ber. At least for now.

The Group of Eight has ditched Rus­sia after its ac­tions in Ukraine and is now the G-7, the coun­tries’ lead­ers an­nounced Monday from The Hag­ue. The group — which now in­cludes the lead­ers of Canada, France, Ger­many, Italy, Ja­pan, the U.K., the United States, the pres­id­ent of the European Coun­cil, and the pres­id­ent of the European Com­mis­sion — con­demned “Rus­sia’s il­leg­al at­tempt to an­nex Crimea” and said the mem­bers “re­main ready” to take ad­di­tion­al steps if Rus­sia “con­tin­ues to es­cal­ate the situ­ation.”

In the mean­time, the G-8 is on hi­atus. “We will sus­pend our par­ti­cip­a­tion in the G-8 un­til Rus­sia changes course and the en­vir­on­ment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion,” the lead­ers said in their joint state­ment. The G-7 will meet this sum­mer, at the same time the G-8 was sched­uled to meet, but it’ll do so in Brus­sels in­stead of So­chi.

Rus­sia doesn’t seem to mind the ex­clu­sion, at least pub­licly. “If our West­ern part­ners be­lieve the [G-8] format has ex­hausted it­self, we don’t cling to this format,” Rus­si­an For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lav­rov said Monday. “We don’t be­lieve it will be a big prob­lem if it doesn’t con­vene.” At the same time, Lav­rov took is­sue with the idea that his coun­try could just be ex­pelled from the group. “No one hands out [G-8] mem­ber­ship cards and no one can be kicked out,” he said. Rus­sia had only been ad­ded to the G-7, mak­ing it the G-8, in 1998.

There may come a day when the G-8 is whole again. But that day def­in­itely doesn’t look to be in the very im­me­di­ate fu­ture. So for now, let’s re­mem­ber the hap­pi­er times, just a year ago, when the G-8 was whole and no one wore ties.

Rus­sia’s Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin, Bri­tain’s Prime Min­is­ter Dav­id Camer­on, and U.S. Pres­id­ent Obama stand for the “fam­ily” group pho­to­graph at the G-8 ven­ue on June 18, 2013, in En­niskil­len, North­ern Ire­land. (Matt Cardy/Getty Im­ages)

This photo from last sum­mer’s meet­ing, mean­while, is much more in line with what you can ex­pect to see at the up­com­ing meet­ing. Just, you know, without that little bit of Putin’s head stick­ing around be­hind Dav­id Camer­on.

Mem­bers ar­rive for the fam­ily pho­to­graph on June 18, 2013, in En­niskil­len. (Matt Cardy/Getty Im­ages) {{ BIZOBJ (video: 4839) }}

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