President Donald Trump said Friday that Russia should be reinstated to a leading group of industrialized nations ahead of his visit to the G7 summit this weekend.
Trump’s statement is an extraordinary break from key US allies, and particularly striking given Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. A special counsel investigation into whether
Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia is underway, though Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations.
“Russia should be in this meeting,” Trump told reporters upon leaving the White House for the summit, which is being held in Charlevoix, Canada. “They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
Russia was suspended from the group — then known as the G8 — in 2014 after the majority of member countries allied against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which Russia continues to hold.
He added: “Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, we have a world to run 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.”
Trump’s comments were almost immediately backed up by Giuseppe Conte, the newly-minted prime minister of Italy’s populist government. “I agree with President @realDonaldTrump: Russia should re-enter the G8. It’s in everyone’s interests,” he wrote.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League, the two components of Italy’s governing coalition, have called for an “opening” towards Russia in foreign policy, and an elimination of sanctions against Moscow.