Russia 'can rejoin G7 if it drops Bashar al-Assad'

Russia 'can rejoin G7 if it drops Bashar al-Assad'
While the US takes a hardline approach, diplomats could take use a carrot and stick tactic to force Russia to withdraw support of Assad in Syria.
3 min read
10 April, 2017
Russia was suspended from then G8 group in 2014 [Getty]

Russia could be allowed to rejoin the world’s G7 group should it withdraw from the Syrian conflict, an incentive that is expected to be used at the meeting of the world’s seven most industrialised nations on Monday, reports said.

Moscow, which lost its then G8 membersip in 2014, has been heavily condemned for its role in supporting Bashar al-Assad since the conflict began in 2011.

“I think Tillerson will be able to travel to Russia with some very clear direction that if Putin wants to have a seat back at the top table of international affairs he has to get rid of Assad,” a Whitehall source told the Telegraph.

But while diplomats attempt the carrot and stick approach, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to take a harsher method by offering the Russians an ultimatium that could end with tough sanctions.

“We have to give him an exit strategy that allows him to save face. Ultimatums don’t tend to work with the Russians. But he can see that Syria is becoming more of a liability than an asset.

“If he were to force Assad out he could make it clear that Russia was committed to rebuilding Syria, which is in Russia’s interests.”

Britain on Saturday said it would not attend the meeting as a form of protest against Russia

British protest

Meanwhile long-term US ally Britain on Saturday said it would not attend the meeting as a form of protest against Russia.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cancelled a trip to Moscow scheduled for next week, his office announced on Saturday, saying "developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally".

"My priority is now to continue contact with the US and others in the run up to the G7 meeting on 10 to 11 April," said Johnson, who had been due to depart for Moscow on Monday.

"We deplore Russia's continued defense of the Assad regime even after the chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians," he added.

Johnson called on Russia to do "everything possible to bring about a political settlement in Syria and work with the rest of the international community to ensure that the shocking events of the last week are never repeated".

The UK's foreign secretary backed the US after if fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian regime's Shayrat airbase near Homs.

The attack was in response to a chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun earlier this week, in which over 80 people were killed, including 26 children.

Russian and Iranian army chiefs vowed to keep fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad against rebels they brand as "terrorists" and condemned the airstrike as a "flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression".

Syria's war has killed more than 320,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.