Until recently, the suspect basis of Russian G8 membership seemed scarcely to matter. In the mid-1990s, the then G7 accepted American President Bill Clinton’s argument that admitting Russia would assist its transformation into a fully-ﬂedged democracy and market economy, as well as make it more amenable to NATO’s enlargement into central Europe. Since then, Russia has consolidated its position in the G8 and will host the summit next year, thereby sanctifying its arrival at the high table of ‘civilised’ powers.
This prize, however, has been called into question as a result of President Vladimir Putin’s domestic and foreign policies over the past eighteen months. The Kremlin’s manipulation of domestic politics, the protracted Yukos oil company affair, and overt interference in the Ukrainian presidential election, have undermined Moscow’s quest for a new level of international legitimacy.