Russia Rules Out Return to G8

Russia has not asked to rejoin the group of the world’s leading economies and is perfectly happy working with the larger G20, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump called for Russia’s return.

According to TASS, Lavrov said on national television that Russia “never asked anyone to return” to the Group of Seven following the 2014 decision to suspend Russia over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

Ahead of the annual meeting of G7 leaders, Trump said Russia should be allowed back, a suggestion quickly rejected by Britain, France, and Germany.

“In the G20 ultimatums don’t work, you need to reach agreements there,” said the Russian foreign minister. The G20 “is a mechanism to reach consensus. I think this is the most promising format for the future,” he added.

Russia has bridled at Western sanctions over Crimea but has not sought to compromise to rebuild ties.

Relations with the West have become even more strained in recent months after the poisoning in Britain of a Russian former double agent and his daughter, an attack on London has accused Moscow of being behind.

However, the Kremlin acknowledged Saturday that President Vladimir Putin discussed during a visit to Austria earlier this week the possibility of Vienna playing host to a summit with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

Putin said in a Russian television interview that a meeting with Trump would be “useful”.

“Dialogue may prove to be constructive,” he said in the interview, the full version of which was released on Saturday. He added that Russia was ready to “develop, deepen and normalize ties with the United States,” noting that the next move was for Washington to make.