The G7 Communique What the Media Missed

With the world’s media focussing on Donald Trump’s behaviour at the recent G7 meeting held in Canada, his post-meeting tweets and the fact that the leaders and their sherpas actually managed to cobble together an official communique, little attention has been paid to the actual content of the communique, particularly as it relates to Russia, a former member of the group, back when it was known as the G8.

Here’s what was said about Russia in the communique itself:

We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing behaviour to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime. We condemn the attack using a military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury, United Kingdom. We share and agree with the United Kingdom’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the attack, and that there is no plausible alternative explanation. We urge Russia to live up to its international obligations, as well as its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to uphold international peace and security. Notwithstanding, we will continue to engage with Russia on addressing regional crises and global challenges, where it is in our interests. We reiterate our condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and reaffirm our enduring support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders. We maintain our commitment to assisting Ukraine in implementing its ambitious and necessary reform agenda. We recall that the continuation of sanctions is clearly linked to Russia’s failure to demonstrate complete implementation of its commitments in the Minsk Agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and we fully support the efforts within the Normandy Format and of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for a solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Should its actions so require, we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase costs on Russia. We remain committed to support Russian civil society and to engage and invest in people-to-people contact.”

Note the use of the words’ “highly likely” when referring to the Skripal incident.  It is also interesting to note that the G7 leaders are urging Russia to “uphold international peace and security” but that there is absolutely no mention of the United States uninvited participation in the Syrian civll war.  The repeated mention of Ukraine can be laid at the feet of Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs who is of Ukrainian descent, a person who has made her anti-Russian viewpoint a key part of her term as Canada’s representative on the world stage, a stance that has earned her a Russian travel ban.  While she claims to be a Russophile and actually lived in Moscow, it is quite clear that she is strongly anti-Putin with comments like this from an article that she wrote for Quartz as a contributor to the Brookings Institute:

I made the Russian list of the unwelcome as a three-fer: an activist Ukrainian-Canadian, a politician (I was elected to Parliament in 2013 to represent Toronto Centre), and a journalist with a long paper trail that frequently displeased the Kremlin, since I covered Moscow’s brutal war in Chechnya in the 1990s and also wrote a book about the rise of the Russian oligarchs. I interviewed Putin himself in 2000, shortly after he took over as president. When, in 2011, he decided to take the presidency back from his protégé, Dmitry Medvedev, I wrote a column in The New York Times arguing that Putin’s Russia was on its way to becoming a full-fledged dictatorship that would eventually be vulnerable to a popular uprising….

This subterfuge (regarding the Ukraine) is, arguably, Putin’s single most dramatic resort to the Soviet tactic of the Big Lie. Through his virtual monopoly of the Russian media, Putin has airbrushed away the truth of what happened a quarter of a century ago: the dissolution of the USSR was the result not of Western manipulation but of the failings of the Soviet state, combined with the initiatives of Soviet reformist leaders who had widespread backing from their citizens. Moreover, far from conspiring to tear the USSR apart, Western leaders in the late 1980s and early nineties used their influence to try to keep it together.

And Ms. Freeland wonders why she is banned from entering Russia.

In addition to appearing in the main body of the G7’s communique, although not specifically named, Russia also appears in the Charlevoix Commitment on Defending Democracy from Foreign Threats as you can infer from these quotes:

Democracy and the rules-based international order are increasingly being challenged by authoritarianism and the defiance of international norms. In particular, foreign actors seek to undermine our democratic societies and institutions, our electoral processes, our sovereignty and our security. These malicious, multi-faceted and ever-evolving tactics constitute a serious strategic threat which we commit to confront together, working with other governments that share our democratic values. Defending democracy will require us to adopt a strategic approach that is consistent with universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, our international commitments to peace and security, and that promotes equality. We welcome the work of G7 Foreign and Security Ministers in Toronto to establish a common understanding of unacceptable actions by foreign actors with the malicious intent of undermining our countries’ democratic systems as the basis for our collective and individual response.

Here are the group’s solutions to the “Russia electoral interference problem”:

1.) Respond to foreign threats, both together and individually, in order to meet the challenges facing our democracies.

2.) Strengthen G7 cooperation to prevent, thwart and respond to malign interference by foreign actors aimed at undermining the democratic processes and the national interests of a G7 state.

3.) Establish a G7 Rapid Response Mechanism to strengthen our coordination to identify and respond to diverse and evolving threats to our democracies, including through sharing information and analysis, and identifying opportunities for coordinated response.

4.) Share lessons learned and best practices in collaboration with governments, civil society and the private sector that are developing related initiatives including those that promote free, independent and pluralistic media; fact-based information; and freedom of expression.

5.) Engage directly with internet service providers and social media platforms regarding malicious misuse of information technology by foreign actors, with a particular focus on improving transparency regarding the use and seeking to prevent the illegal use of personal data and breaches of privacy.

6.) Support public learning and civic awareness aimed at promoting critical thinking skills and media literacy on intentionally misleading information, and improving online security and safety.

7.) In accordance with applicable laws, ensure a high level of transparency around sources of funding for political parties and all types of political advertising, especially during election campaigns.”

You have to love two parts of this solution:

1.) preventing the illegal use of personal data – this is particularly egregious given that these governments are well known for spying on their citizens and using our private data for their own nefarious purposes to which we are not privy.

2.) ensuring a high level of transparency around the funding of political parties, particularly during election campaigns – given that American elections are driven by so-called dark money and by the American oligarchy, we all know that, while this sentiment is heart-warming, it will never really be enacted to any degree.

The communique from the leaders of the G7 is just another means of promoting the anti-Russia sentiment that has become so pervasive over the past few years.  The content of the communique does give us a strong sense of how isolated Russia has become, even with Donald Trump’s strong suggestions that Russia be allowed to rejoin the G8.  Fortunately, most people will never read either the communique or the Charlevoix Commitment, making the propagandizing efforts of the G7 leaders rather moot.  

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