US allies balk at Trump's latest misguided G7 gambit

Some of the United States' closest allies have already announced their opposition to Trump's plan to help Russia rejoin the G7.

When a country prepares to host a G7 summit, there are all kinds of logistical and diplomatic challenges, but it's safe to say no host has struggled quite as much as Donald Trump in advance of this year's international gathering.

As recently as the fall, the American president's original plan was to hold the G7 event at his struggling business near Miami's airport, which would have had the effect of forcing world leaders to indirectly put money in his pocket.

Trump eventually backed off this scheme, agreeing to host the gathering at a property he didn't personally own. But once the global pandemic started taking a severe toll here and around the world, it became clear that an in-person summit could create health hazards for some of the planet's most powerful heads of state. A virtual gathering would have to do.

That is, until Trump desperately wanted to persuade registered voters that conditions in the United States had returned to normal. It led the Republican to abandon the idea of a virtual summit and instead invite the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom to the United States.

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel politely declined the invitation, citing "the overall pandemic situation."

This apparently prompted Trump to postpone the next G7 gathering, announce that he doesn't much like the "outdated" international coalition anyway, and propose adding four new members: Australia, India, Russia, and South Korea.

The Republican's pitch came almost exactly two years after he first called on the G7 to readmit Russia into the group. (Russia was kicked out after it invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea.) What has Moscow done to deserve such a reward? Trump didn't say. Why would Russia be part of an international coalition reserved for liberal democracies? Trump didn't say.

The American president may need to sharpen his pitch, because as Politico noted, some of the United States' closest allies have already announced their opposition to Trump's plan.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has occasionally been an ally of Trump's, but his spokesperson told journalists on Monday that he would veto any plan to readmit Russia.... Johnson "is unlikely to be pushed around by anyone on this," a senior British diplomat told POLITICO.... Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau also told reporters Monday that Russia should not be welcomed back. "Its continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms is why it remains outside of the G-7 and it will continue to remain out," said Trudeau.

In order for the G7 to welcome new member nations, support from existing members would need to be unanimous. Or put another way, Trump's latest plan to help his benefactors in Moscow is already dead -- killed by two allies, handing the Republican yet another embarrassing diplomatic setback.

Nevertheless, Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly discussed the White House's plan yesterday. The conversation came the same day the Russian leader announced plans for a July 1 vote that would allow Putin to remain in power until 2036.