You’ve probably seen the term “G7” in the news recently – leaders from the group are set to meet later this week in England. Let’s take a history lesson into the group, and why it suspended one of its members.
Quickly, what and who is part of G7?
The Group of Seven (G7) is a group made up of some of the world’s largest advanced economies including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the U.S.
It used to be called Group of Eight (G8), as Russia used to be part of the group. Having Russia as part of the group from 1998 was meant to signal cooperation between East and West, but Russia was expelled in 2014.
The 40th G8 summit was due to be held 4–5 June 2014 in Sochi, Russia. However, the remaining seven countries decided (without Russia) to host the meeting in Brussels, Belgium. The decision came after Russia annexed (forcibly acquired) the region of Crimea from the Ukraine.
In the months prior to the meeting, there was speculation that Russia was to be suspended for its actions in Crimea, and it was announced by British Prime Minister David Cameron that the meeting was no longer to be held in Russia. It was then later announced that Russia was suspended. A statement from the White House at the time said, “international law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force”, in response to Russia annexing Crimea. “To do so violates the principles upon which the international system is built. We condemn the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution”, the statement added.
Russia responded with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying, “G8 is an informal organization that does not give out any membership cards and, by its definition, cannot remove anyone”.
Former President Donald Trump over his presidency raised the idea of inviting Russia back into the group to re-join numerous times. Nonetheless, member nations opposed the suggestion, and their approval was required for the invitation.
In 2017, Russia announced its permanent withdrawal from the G8 — with the group’s name changing to G7.