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While departing the White House for the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, on Friday, President Donald Trump called for Russia to be readmitted to the group of leading industrialized nations.
“It used to be the G8, because Russia was in it and now Russia's not in it,” Trump told reporters during an informal press gaggle in front of the White House. The G7, or Group of Seven, currently consists of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Japan.
Watch the video below via C-SPAN:
President Trump on #G7: “They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 8, 2018
“Now, I love our country, I have been Russia's worst nightmare. If Hillary got in — I think Putin is going, 'Man, I wish Hillary won,' because you see what I do,” he said. “But, with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?”
Russia was removed from the G8, or Group of Eight, in 2014 at the behest of the United States and its western allies. The move was a direct response to Russia's forceful annexation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine.
“International law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state's territory through coercion or force,” the Obama White House said in a statement at the time. “To do so violates the principles upon which the international system is built. We condemn the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine's constitution.”
Russia was added to the Group of Seven in 1998 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Though more informal than the yearly Group of 20 summit, the G7 meeting allows for close coordination between major western economic superpowers — and, from 1998 to 2014, Russia.
Russia's occupation of the Crimean peninsula continues today, with their 2014 annexation referendum viewed as illegitimate by the majority of the international community, but the new American administration seems to have changed course in calling for Russia to be readmitted to the G7.
An invitation to rejoin the group despite his flouting of international norms and laws would be a major win for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,” Trump said on Friday. “And in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”