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June 12, 2018

Just Say No to Russia Joining the G-7


President Donald Trump has suggested that Russia should be allowed to rejoin the G-7.  As he left the White House for the summit in Canada, Trump said, “Russia should be in this meeting. They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”  

No, it shouldn’t. 

The G-7 is composed of like-minded democracies

The G-7, or Group of Seven, began in 1973 when then-U.S. Treasury Secretary George Shultz invited the finance ministers from Germany, Great Britain and France to Washington to discuss economic policies. As the meeting grew in stature, the heads of state began attending and more countries were invited: Japan, Italy and Canada. Representatives from the European Union also attend the meetings. 

In the 1990s Russia began making overtures and attended the meetings as an “observer,” leading to the name G-7+1. Given that the Soviet Union had fallen and it appeared that Russia was transitioning into a democracy, it made some sense to invite Russia to join, becoming the G-8.  

However, when Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, the group expelled Russia in 2014. Russia remains in Crimea. 

Perhaps more importantly, Russia appears to be moving away from a real democracy to an autocracy, thus it no longer fits the definition of a like-minded democracy. 

The G-7 represents the world’s largest developed economies

Russia has long been a military power; it has never been an economic power. 

In fact, Russia’s GDP is only slightly larger than Texas and New York, and significantly smaller than California. If it weren’t for crude oil and natural gas production, Russia would have almost no economy. 

All of the G-7 economies are in the top 10 by GDP. The other three are China (second), India and Brazil.  But China and India only make the top 10 list because of their huge populations.  

Russia comes in at 11 for 2018. It was 12th in 2016, but switched places with then-11th placed South Korea.  

The fact is that Russia doesn’t belong in the G-7. If the criterion of major, like-minded developed economies is going to be abandoned, then China and perhaps India probably have a better claim than Russia to being a G-7 member.


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