G-7 playing 'dangerous game' with criticism of Russia, ambassador says

G-7 playing 'dangerous game' with criticism of Russia, ambassador says
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The Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom warned Thursday that Group of Seven (G-7) countries are playing a “dangerous game” with their criticism of Moscow, a move which he says could push Russia closer to China. 

In an interview with Reuters published Thursday, Andrei Kelin commented on a G-7 communique released earlier this month accusing Russia of showing a “negative pattern” of “irresponsible and destabilising behaviour.” 

The memo from the G-7, which is comprised of the U.S., U.K., Japan, Canada, France, Germany and Italy, specifically cited Russia’s continued military buildup near Ukraine’s borders and its presence in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 in a move the international community has deemed illegal. 

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Kelin argued that the communique, which also expressed concerns over China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims and its “decision fundamentally to erode democratic elements of the electoral system in Hong Kong,” was biased and confrontational, and will likely further push Russia and China together. 

He said that the document along with other continued criticisms of the Kremlin, which has denied interfering in affairs beyond its borders, will likely further promote anti-Western sentiments among Russians.

"This is a dangerous game," Kelin told Reuters. "Russia and China have enormous potential in different fields — in the economy, in technology, in military capacities, in politics — this potential is spread around the world."

The ambassador said that while Russia is “not allies with China,” attacks from G-7 leaders “closes our ranks with China," thus making Moscow and Beijing “more and more united against challenges that are being presented from the West."

Kelin also accused the G-7 of practicing “megaphone diplomacy," telling Reuters, “This is a club that expresses certain opinions on different subjects but it has no grounds to judge other countries about the state of democracy."

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When asked by Reuters about the state of human rights within Russia, Kelin said countries such as the U.S. and U.K. should “look at themselves.” 

"No one gives them the right to judge others — especially on the state of democracy,” he said. 

Kelin also argued that the G-7, which had previously included Russia to form the Group of Eight but later suspended the country after its annexation of Crimea, “has lost its authority."

"It is divisive — it has a tendency to split the world into friends and aliens: They want to talk about coalitions of friends targeted against the others. This doesn't bring solutions — it brings more problems to the world," he argued. 

G-7 leaders are scheduled to meet in June for a summit in St. Ives in the English region of Cornwall, where they are expected to discuss in part how to address Russia and President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich Putin Putin says dozens of staffers infected with COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails Overnight Hillicon Valley — Ex-US intel operatives pay to settle hacking charges MORE’s government. 

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France Oversight Republicans seek testimony from Afghanistan watchdog France cancels DC gala in anger over Biden sub deal: report MORE sat down with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday for the diplomats’ first face-to-face meeting. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement after the meeting that Blinken vocalized the U.S. desire to promote a “more stable and predictable relationship” with the Kremlin, and also “raised our deep concerns regarding Russia’s continued military deployments in and near Ukraine, its actions against VOA [Voice of America] and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the health of Aleksey Navalny and the repression of opposition organizations, among other issues.”