Europe Economy

No place for Putin at G-7: Canadian PM

Reported by Peter Ruddick, written by Nyshka Chandran
Russia is dominated by oligarchs: Canadian PM
Russia is dominated by oligarchs: Canadian PM
Behind the scenes at the G-7 meeting
Behind the scenes at the G-7 meeting
Putin has given no reason to lessen sanctions: Canadian PM
Putin has given no reason to lessen sanctions: Canadian PM

The Group of Seven (G-7) has no desire to include Russian President Vladimir Putin in this week's annual summit despite his crucial role in the group's agenda, Canada's Prime Minister told CNBC.

"We are having a discussion on the shared interests of the Western democratic world. Mr. Putin, who is in no way part of that, has no place at the table and I don't believe there's any leader who would defend Mr. Putin having a place," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday.

The comments come as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attempt to engage with the Russian leader in the hope of brokering a peace deal with Ukraine. The G-7 hopes Moscow and Kiev will commit long-term to a ceasefire agreed in February this year.

"I think some of that is quite useful," Harper said, referring to Merkel's efforts. But Putin's exclusion from the G-7 is justified by the fact that his vision of Russia is at odds with the interests of the G-7, Harper continued.

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"Mr. Putin runs an entirely different system... he runs an economy that is dominated by oligarchs and criminal syndicates, it is not at all like our economy, it doesn't share our interests, it doesn't share our values and so I think we need to have discussions where we can really rally the shared interests of the Western democratic world."

Putin was suspended from the Group of Eight (G-8) last year following his annexation of Crimea. Some critics say his presence may be crucial this year to resolving the longstanding crisis in Eastern Europe. Just last week, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko warned of a full-scale Russian invasion.

However, Harper was insistent that the inclusion of Putin would only impede productive talks.

"His presence in the past quite frankly was undermining the coherence and effectiveness of this organization and I don't think there is much appetite to have him back. Certainly Canada and I know others would strongly oppose him ever returning."

A unified front against sanctions

With some sanctions against Moscow due to expire in July, North American leaders like Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama hope to extend current measures but European leaders have yet to formally agree.

"I am actually very optimistic that European leaders will continue to extend these [sanctions] because Mr. Putin has given absolutely no reason why we would do otherwise," Harper said.

A few European nations would like to see reduced sanctions given their closer economic ties with Russia, he noted. Still, they understand that Mr Putin's behavior is more provocative than it's ever been, he said, citing renewed shelling in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk this week.

Harper added that Canada remains committed to toughening sanctions if Putin continues to escalate violence, echoing Obama's recent comment of "standing up to Russian aggression."