Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen (Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/YANN COATSALIOU/AFP/Getty Images)
The United States on Tuesday said it would be “appropriate” to have Russia re-join what used to be the G8, but the suggestion was swiftly rejected by the group’s EU members. “By opposing Russia’s readmission, the EU is re-enacting an absurd parody of the Cold War,” Mrs Le Pen, leader of the populist Rassemblement national (RN) party, tweeted. “On top of being anachronistic, this anti-Russia ideology is completely counter-productive for the interests of European nations,” she continued.
Mrs Le Pen is an unabashed admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom she described in 2017 as being “good for world peace”.
Her comments came after US President Donald Trump said earlier this week it would be “appropriate” to have Russia return to the influential group.
“I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” Mr Trump said just days before a G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
“I could certainly see it being the G8 again. If someone would make that motion, I would be disposed to think about it favourably… They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,” he continued.
Russia was pushed out of the group in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Germany, France and Britain – all G7 members – said earlier on Thursday that Russia could not be allowed back into the group because Moscow still occupies Crimea and is frustrating peace in eastern Ukraine.
A European Union official said readmitting Mr Putin without conditions would be “counterproductive, a sign of weakness”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Image: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images)
“The EU remains strongly of the view that the reasons for Russia’s exclusion in 2014 from the then-G8 are still valid today as they were valid five years ago. So the EU will be against the idea of re-inviting Russia to the G7,” the source added.
European nations and the United States have imposed sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict, which has already claimed some 13,000 lives.
Speaking in Berlin on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also cited the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain last year as a reason to not readmit Russia.
London and Brussels both blame Russia for that attack, though the Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement.
The lack of consensus over how to handle Russia – with Mr Trump praising Mr Putin despite Western criticism of his record – is just one of several areas of tension in trans-Atlantic ties that will be on display at the G7 gathering.
The G7 groups the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.
Anti-G7 protesters will struggle to disrupt the August 24-26 meeting, as France is deploying 13,200