The Group of Seven, consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, are meeting in Toronto, Canada for two days, and spent the first part of the day discussing Russia, Reuters reported. The relationship between Russia and the West has become more strained over the past few years, and tensions continue to escalate due to Russia’s involvement in the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts.
According to Reuters‘ sources, the G7 is not backing down. The group of seven leading industrialized nations is refusing to compromise and will continue to maintain a tough line on Russia.
“The language will be tough because of what the Russians have done until now. But it can also be interpreted as leaving the door open,” a source told Reuters.
The G7 is, according to the same sources, communicating a simple message to Russia: Work with us, if you want to be treated as a great power.
In Syria, Russia is backing President Bashar al-Assad. On April 7, more than 50 people were killed in a chemical weapon attack on Douma, which was a rebel-held town. According to the BBC, France has said that it has proof Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons. The Syrian government, on the other hand, denies these allegations. Russia, a key Assad ally, said that it has irrefutable evidence that the entire incident was staged with the help of the United Kingdom.
Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014. Russia has not backed down on Crimea since. More recently, Euronews reported that the Putin-led country had further reinforced its presence in the Crimean peninsula. The Russians deployed a new division of S-400 surface-to-air missiles in January, 2018. This was done in response to, in Sevastopol MP Dmitry Belik’s words, frequent threats to Russian territory and attempted drone attacks at Russian bases in Syria.
At the G7 Toronto meeting, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Moscow to help resolve the tension in Syria.
“We know that the Syrian conflict, for example, can’t be solved without Russia. But it must then come up with constructive offers in return,” he told reporters.
This meeting is also the first time the Group of Seven has met since the United States, France, and Britain launched 105 missiles targeting chemical weapons facilities in Syria. This was done in retaliation to the chemical weapon attack that ally forces claim was launched by Bashar al-Assad.
The Toronto meeting, due to end tomorrow evening, will help G7 leaders prepare for another summit, which is to be held in June of this year.