G7 Summit Ebook 2014Announcing the June 2014 Special G7 eBook Issue Cover Story: A Europe-Russia Energy Standoff PLUS: Targeted Sanctions On Russia Will Work, But Mostly for Vladimir Putin; From Russia With No Love; and More! With only a few months before some of the world’s most powerful leaders were slated to gather in Sochi, Russia, things fell apart. Ukraine’s protests resulted in President Yanukovych fleeing the country, and a new, interim government put in his place. Russia, claiming to be responding to demands by Crimean voters, annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and threatened to destabilize Ukraine further by amassing troops on the limping nation’s eastern border.  After a few tense phone calls between U.S. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and angry statements to the press from other G8 leaders, Russia was summarily removed from the upcoming summit, and the location moved to Brussels. A statement from the G7 nations read, in part: “We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine. […] We note that Russia’s actions in Ukraine also contravene the principles and values on which the G-7 and the G-8 operate. As such, we have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June, until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have meaningful discussion.” Questions over the G8/G7’s relevance have floated around for years—in an age when global citizens are demanding transparency and a voice in political processes, and when emerging markets such as the BRICS, BERICS, GUTS (or whatever le nom du jour is) hold increasing economic power, what role does a summit of perhaps 10 global leaders play? Considering the growing leverage of nations in the global south, would it not be more effective to merge these discussions—think how to manage Russia’s actions—with an organization like the G20? At the Diplomatic Courier, we believe that the G8/G7 does still play a role, even if the bigger, headline-grabbing developments may not come out of this sequestered congress. The G8—with nearly 50 percent of the deciding votes in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and enormous influence in the World Trade Organization, the UN Security Council, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development—have continued to shape global financial trade and political policy. You can be sure that any issue touching these nations’ economic, military, or political reach is on the agenda: continued sanctions against Russia, the TTIP negotiations, job growth, energy security, continued talks with Iran, recent European Union political developments, tensions in the South China Seas, and climate change. And perhaps, even though Russia was optically excluded for the first time since 1994, Putin still very much has a voice at the table. He offered to meet with each of the leaders in France during the 70th anniversary celebrations of the D-Day invasion, and it is clear that European leaders are slowly re-engaging with Russia after tensions seemed to settle somewhat following Ukraine’s presidential elections. The Cold War era is over, and isolating Russia is no longer possible, not with a host of issues needing Russia’s clout on the G7’s plates.  

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