How Trump’s G7 call for readmission could misfire for Russia

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire greet President Trump at the G7 meeting on June 8, 2018 in Quebec City. Photo: Leon Neal via Getty Images

The foreign ministers of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine met in Berlin today to take another stab at peace in Ukraine. The U.S. is not represented, but President Trump’s presence will likely be felt in ways that he didn’t intend — and that Vladimir Putin will not appreciate.

The big picture: President Trump’s suggestion that Russia be re-invited to meetings between the leading Western democracies got this year’s G7 summit in Quebec off to a tumultuous start. Like his previous attempts to improve relations with Putin, Trump’s latest diplomatic effort was so ham-handed that it will likely make international cooperation more fraught, even for Russia.

If the idea was to bring Putin back into the club, then Trump’s effort was an immediate failure. All it got him was a reminder from the other leaders about why Russia was kicked out in the first place: its aggression against Ukraine.

The impact: With his abrupt and imperious call to bring Putin back into the diplomatic fold, Trump has made European leaders who might be formulating their own overtures to Moscow look as though they’re taking orders from a deeply unpopular American president. Putin will now find it harder to patch things up with Europe, put the Ukraine issue behind him and get back into the club. Across Europe, pro-Putin populist parties find themselves associated with a tarnished brand.

Stephen Sestanovich is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, professor of international diplomacy at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and author of “Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama.”

What's next

⚖️ Live updates: Democrats close out their opening arguments

House managers wrapped up their three-day impeachment presentation with a direct appeal to the senators to think about the precedent their actions — or more notably their inaction — would have on democracy and Congress’ future ability to serve as a check on the president.

The close: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) anticipated attacks on him, other House managers, the Ukraine whistleblower, and the Bidens from Trump's team, which begins its defense of the president on Saturday. He appealed directly to GOP senators: “Real political courage does not come from disagreement with our opponents, but disagreeing with our friends and our own party.”

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020 - Politics

Death toll climbs in coronavirus outbreak

41 people have died from an outbreak of a coronavirus strain that originated in Wuhan, China, AP reports.

The latest: The respiratory illness has made its way to Europe, with France confirming three cases, Reuters reports. France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said Friday two patients are hospitalized in Paris. The other case is in the southwestern city of Bordeaux. They had returned from a trip that had a stop in Wuhan.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020 - World

Lawyer alleges Giuliani associate recorded Trump comments on Ukrainian ambassador

Photo: Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The lawyer for Lev Parnas, a Rudy Giuliani associate, claims there is a recording of President Trump saying former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch should be fired, the Daily Beast reports.

The latest: Parnas said on Friday that he has turned the recording over to the House Intelligence Committee, per the New York Times — as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) led House Democrats in laying out the case for impeaching Trump before the Senate.