Robert Francis

Account Director

Grayling Brussels

It’s the geopolitical equivalent of a naughty schoolboy being sent outside the classroom.

Monday’s decision by G8 – now G7 – members to suspend Russia from its exclusive club perhaps comes as an embarrassment to Russia, not least since it was meant to be having the glory of hosting the G8 Summit in the Winter Olympic resort of Sochi.

So are we witnessing the resurrection of Cold War borders? Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister doesn’t seem to think so.

“We don't believe it will be a big problem if it doesn't convene," he commented.

As well he might, for there are chinks the size of the Black Sea in the current G7 alignment. Firstly, they do not see eye to eye on quite what to do with Russia and the levels of sanctions.

Secondly, politics, like business, does not happen in a vacuum.

Hamstrung

Corporate entities in the Western world are becoming increasingly uneasy about what could, in the end, amount to a virtual blacklisting of a key market.

Russia is the third most important economic partner for the EU, which is the country’s largest investor, and Russia represents more than 6% of EU exports and nearly 10% of its imports.

Moreover, supplies of Russian gas cover 19% of the EU’s total gas consumption, including 80% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 37% in Germany and Italy and 24% in France (et voilà why the latter three countries want to go easy on Mr Putin…)

This effectively means that the EU – and by extension the G7 – is hamstrung when it comes to dealing with its eastern neighbour. Similarly, Russia itself is heavily reliant on selling its gas, amongst others, to the EU.

Ultimately, the G7 needs Russia, and Russia needs the G7.

Stalemate 



All of which means that the most likely scenario to emerge from the current situation is… stalemate.

Ultimately, the G7 needs Russia, and Russia needs the G7. The Cold War ended over twenty years ago, the world is much more intertwined than it was, and Russia is now a free market economy operating within the WTO.

We have come a long way since the fall of the Soviet Union, and although Crimeans now fly another flag (and most seem quite happy about this at the current time), there is sure to be a G7/8 rapprochement around the corner. There has to be. There is no other way.

It’s time for the naughty schoolboy to come in from the cold.

About 
@TheEULobbySituated in the heart of Brussels’ EU quarter, Grayling Belgium is a fully integrated communications consultancy specializing in public affairs, public relations, and international corporate communications.

Robert Francis is a Director in Grayling Brussels' political affairs and public relations departments and has specialist expertise in environment, chemicals, transport, and public health policies. He can be reached at robert.francis@grayling.com.