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)