G8 and Russia: Precarious Respectability

Russia’s presence in the G8 is one of those historical accidents that defy conventional logic. It is not one of the world’s leading economic powers – the original and still most important criterion for membership. Its influence on global affairs has declined to near- insignificance. And its standing as a democracy, never convincing, is at its lowest since the fall of the Soviet Union fourteen years ago. Judged by any objective standard, Russia is the least ‘deserving’ member of the group, with a number of outsiders – China, India, Brazil – having far stronger claims for inclusion.

The World Today Published 1 June 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 4 minute READ

Bobo Lo

International Relations Analyst, Independent

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.

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