The G7 made the politically charged decision to suspend Russia’s membership following the country’s reunification with Crimea at the end of March 2014. At the time, many media outlets treated this news as being bound to have some sort of sensational consequence for Russia, but they were only partly right. It definitely was a consequential event for the country, but not at all in the manner that they had expected. Instead of bringing about the doom and gloom scenario of an economic collapse, it actually freed Russia up to rapidly accelerate its geo-economic diversification and lay the foundation for entirely new economic fundamentals. The hunter thought he could ensnare the bear by using the honey of Western economic ‘integration’ as bait, but lo and behold, when the honey was punitively withdrawn before the bear was fully trapped, it lackadaisically shrugged off the former temptation and quickly made friends with the economic queen bee instead.
This article thus begins by chronicling the strategic origins of the G7 and then explaining how it sought to use the economic means of its framework to entrap a weakened, 1990s Russia within its global order. Afterwards, it explores what the Putin Presidency did to weaken the foreign grasp on Russian sovereignty, and then move along to the point where the West’s own G7 gambit fantastically failed and helped Russia break free from the former trap. Finally, the last part details how the G7’s continental European members have found themselves worse off after the split, and how this confirms that Russia’s suspension from the group was actually a timely blessing in disguise.
The Hunter’s Mindset
The Cold War was as much an economic competition as it was a military-political one, and this explains the rival groupings of COMECON from the East and the European Coal and Steel Community (the precursor to the EU) from the West. Pertaining to the latter, it came to function as an economic component of NATO, which was founded just two years before it, and considering this, it was inevitable that it too would come to be directly controlled by the US. The creation of the G6 in 1975 (Canada, the sixth member, didn’t join until a year later) satisfied this requirement, as the US directly made itself the economic overlord of not only its primary European proxies, but also its occupied Japanese satellite as well.
Looked at in hindsight, it can be argued that this strategic logic is the forerunner of the combined Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) plots that the US is currently cooking up in order to make itself the connective and controlling nerve center of both economic domains. Seen from another perspective, one much more ominous, the collaboration between the US, France, and the UK on one hand, and (West) Germany, Italy, and Japan on the other, represents a “Reverse Potsdam” of Allied (minus the USSR) and Axis cooperation stretching across the globe, with this “Rambouillet Pact” having equally global ambitions as its Pact of Steel predecessor.
To Lure A Bear
The G6’s founding document lays out everything that observers need to know about the organization and why it decided to reach out to Russia in the post-Cold War order. The Declaration of Rambouillet makes its ideological objectives clear in its second pronounced point, stating that:
“We came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities. We are each responsible for the government of an open, democratic society, dedicated to individual liberty and social advancement. Our success will strengthen, indeed is essential to, democratic societies everywhere. We are each responsible for assuring the prosperity of a major industrial economy. The growth and stability of our economies will help the entire industrial world and developing countries to prosper.”
There is thus no room for one to deny the political nature of the organization, which has always been to promote the West’s perceived “democratic society” via economic mechanisms. The pursuit of this objective is largely the reason why the group wanted to integrate an economically dysfunctional 1990s Russia, knowing also that the corrupt national elites would froth at the first opportunity to internationally ‘legitimize’ the means by which they were siphoning billions of dollars of wealth out of the country. This brings one to the second major reason why the G7 pushed through the contradiction of inviting a struggling Russia into their elite economic club, and that’s to have full access to its natural resource wealth. In point 13 of the same founding document cited above, the G6 outlined what is perhaps the most practical reason explaining why it made the decision to integrate Russia:
“World economic growth is clearly linked to the increasing availability of energy sources. We are determined to secure for our economies the energy sources needed for their growth. Our common interests require that we continue to cooperate in order to reduce our dependence on imported energy through conservation and the development of alternative sources. Through these measures as well as international cooperation between producer and consumer countries, responding to the long-term interests of both, we shall spare no effort in order to ensure more balanced conditions and a harmonious and steady development in the world energy market.“
From the above, it’s evident that energy considerations were probably the main motivation driving the G7’s interaction with Russia. It of course helped that the country’s sovereignty was critically weakened after the 1990s and that society was still reeling from the national trauma inflicted on it by the sudden Soviet collapse. The contemporaneous political elites were known for their inferiority complex vis-à-vis the West, and their unrestrained corruption ensured that they’d guide the state apparatus after any economic carrot dangled out in front of it. The bear was thereby tempted by economic honey into opening up its home and resources to foreign plunderers, but alas, this was ultimately not to be.
Roaring At The Trappers
Metaphorically speaking, the Russian Bear began roaring at the trappers ever since Vladimir Putin was elected as the country’s President. The single most important thing that he did to safeguard Russia’s sovereignty and national resources from its “Western partners” was to bring Mikhail Khodorkovsky to justice. This oligarch acted with prior impunity and seemed intent to seize power for himself and his foreign backed patrons, but his arrest and subsequent conviction forever prevented those plans from being fulfilled. The importance here lies in the fact that the G7’s highest shadow asset in Russia was removed from the political and economic scene, which thus nullified the ideological and energy motivations for incorporating Russia into the group. Furthermore, the Russian economy began to roar back into action around this time too, buoyed by high oil prices and prudent budgetary management, which on the economic level, finally made Russia an ‘equal’ member of the group.
In fact, it was between this time and Russia’s suspension from the G7 (2003-2014) that it actually began to partially reverse some of the dynamic being imposed on it. Seeing as how strong the Russian economy had become, it entered into natural economic partnerships with continental Europe’s three G7 members – Germany, Italy, and France. This served the purpose of diversifying their economic dependencies on the US and nudging them along the path of economic multipolarity, if even just slightly. The resultant momentum being created was bringing Russia and continental Europe closer than the US felt comfortable with, and the Nord Stream project was a precise case in point. However unwittingly, the US began to fret that it was losing control over the whole purpose of the G7, and that its colonial subjects in Europe might eventually integrate with Russia to such a degree that they become politically unmanageable.
The Hunter’s Folly
Likewise, the ‘opportunity’ existed to turn this evolving disadvantage back to the US’ favor while the process was in its nascent stages, as there still remained a precise window of timing in which Washington could act. The importance laid in sabotaging the EU and Russia’s bilateral economic relations prior to the stage in which their energy cooperation began transforming into real-sector trade growth, as this would open both sides up to a vulnerability that could consequently be exploited. Russia’s diplomatic intervention in averting a conventional American War on Syria in September 2013 created the vengeful impetus for pushing forward the Ukrainian Color Revolution scenario, which itself was already prefabricated to provoke the larger Russian-European falling out that the US had planned.
As the American-controlled Western mainstream media proceeded to spin a false narrative about “Russian aggression”, the European audience and their elites were increasingly falling into a fearful trance and becoming ever more compliant to whatever responses the US would suggest. Aside from the military-political ones related to NATO, the US also envisioned enacting an economic one pertaining to the G7, ergo the decision to suspend Russia’s membership and implement sanctions against it. The ultimate folly in this tactic rested not in the punitive consequences that it had for Europe (which were anticipated and are proceeding according to expectation), but in the fact that they had the opposite repercussion for Russia, which now found itself unchained from the Western vector of its geo-economic strategy and freer to Pivot to Asia and the non-West…