In the alphabet soup of international politics, a nine-member jawbreaker like BICSMIKTA might eventually prove too unwieldy to be workable. The bottom line is that Russia’s coming absence from the multilateral scene will be a catalyst for new thinking on global challenges. A key question is whether that will revive the G20 or destroy it.
It seems clear that Russia’s membership in the G8 will soon be revoked, and that the group will revert to its origins as the G7, comprising the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, the UK and Italy, plus the EU. However, where that will leave the G20 — including Russia’s continuing participation in it — is much less clear. The G20 has been a somewhat disappointing mechanism for tackling global issues, and the idea of bringing emerging economic giants into the same forum as the leading industrialized ones has yet to pay off in terms of measurable achievements.
What is clear is that in today’s increasingly interdependent world, Putin’s distancing of Russia from so much of the international community looks self-defeating. A generation after the collapse of communism, Russia’s economy and its people’s living standards have started to recover. However, its fast-shrinking population, and its reliance on energy and commodity exports, makes that recovery very fragile. The Kremlin will soon discover that it is far more vulnerable to outside developments than it has so far acknowledged.
Giles Merritt is editor of Europe’s World and heads the Brussels-based think tanks Friends of Europe and Security & Defense Agenda.
Copyright: Project Syndicate