Graham: It would be a ‘mistake’ to readmit Russia to G-7

Graham: It would be a ‘mistake’ to readmit Russia to G-7
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts: report Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday pushed back against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE's suggestion that Russia be readmitted to the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized nations, saying doing so would be "a mistake."

"Expanding the G-7 to the G-8 now would be a mistake. You’ve got to deal with Russia, they’re out there, they’re in Syria, but there is no way I would ever agree to give them that legitimacy," Graham said on ABC's "This Week."

"The Soviet Union may have fallen, but the evil it represents is alive and well in Putin’s Russia. He is no friend of the United States, he’s dismembering democracies everywhere and trying to do so in our own backyard," he continued.

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Russia was expelled from the then-Group of Eight (G-8) in 2014 for its widely denounced annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Trump first expressed support for Russia's readmission to the G-7 on Friday to reporters on the White House lawn before departing for the weekend's summit in Canada.

“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,” Trump said. “And in the G-7, which used be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

Trump doubled down on the idea during this weekend's G-7 meetings, and blamed the Obama administration for failing to take stronger action to prevent the annexation of Crimea.

However, the idea did not gain traction with fellow G-7 members. In a joint statement at the end of this weekend's meetings, G-7 leaders urged Russia "to cease its destabilizing behavior, to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime."

Italy's new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, echoed Trump's suggestion, saying adding Russia to the group is in "everyone's interest."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday he would be "ready" to welcome other world leaders to Moscow if Russia were reincorporated into the group.