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A Summit of Substantial Short-Term Success:
Deepening Democratic Solidarity at the Brussels G7 in 2014

John Kirton
Director, G8 Research Group
June 5, 2014

The G7 leaders' meeting at Brussels on June 4-5, 2014, produced a summit of substantial success, above all on the defining challenges of the crisis in Ukraine and their relationship with Russia as a whole. It also contained the foundation for strong success over the longer term, with the speed and strength depending primarily on the choices to be made by the government and people of Russia and above all Ukraine in the difficult weeks, months and years that lie ahead.

On the defining issue of Ukraine, the leaders restated their fundamental positions and principles, starting with the demand that "Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea … must stop." They specified the immediate conditions that Putin must meet: "recognize the results of the election, complete the withdrawal of its military forces on the border with Ukraine, stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border and to exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence." In the following paragraph they added: "We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia should events so require." In his concluding news conference US President Obama made the direct link clear — if the conditions were not met, the additional measures would be invoked in the next two, three or four weeks.

G7 leaders also mounted a donor coordination mechanism and meeting on Ukraine, to be held in Brussels in the near term. Although the mechanism will explicitly focus on ensuring the effective delivery of the existing economic assistance to Ukraine, totalling at least $35 billion, once the effectiveness standard is met, it will be easier for more money to flow. This will depend in part on Ukraine itself meeting the many conditions set by the G7 for what the new Ukraine must do.

On this firm foundation, the G7's relationship with Russia is to be tested and defined in the very short term, with French president François Hollande dining with Barack Obama and then Vladimir Putin in Paris in the evening after the summit, and then almost all G7 leaders joining with Putin at Normandy the next day, followed by a meeting between British prime minister David Cameron and Putin at the end. Although the Normandy family photo will show all G8 leaders reunited, if in a larger group, the cadence is a repeat of 1991, when immediately, after their London Summit, G7 leaders met with the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev, to see how serious he was about changing course and specifying the conditions he had to meet to move closer to being a part of the G7 club.

Perhaps more importantly, at Brussels the G7 showed that it could and would provide effective leadership in global governance for the long term. It dealt solidly with most of its broad agenda embracing security, the economy, energy, climate change and development. It carried forward the work of major G7 bodies such as the G7 Non-proliferation Directors Group and the Energy Ministers, which would report back to the G7 leaders on the Rome G7 Energy Initiative for Energy Security in 2015. And the leaders agree to meet again under the presidency of Germany in 2015. In short, the restored G7 summit will bear the burden of global leadership for as long as it takes until a reformed Russia can return to the club to which it once genuinely belonged.

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