The Club That Wants Nothing to Do With Russia

What a difference a quarter-century makes. When I covered my first Group of 7 meeting in 1997 in Denver, it was the beginning of a new era. President Bill Clinton, the host, invited President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia to participate and rebranded the meeting “the Summit of the Eight.” From that point on, Russia was part of the club, and the G7 soon became the G8.

Now, all these years later, it is the G7 again and Russia is nowhere to be found for this year’s meeting in Hiroshima, Japan. It was expelled nearly a decade ago for attacking its neighbor Ukraine, a symbol of Moscow’s isolation from the international community. Instead, it is Ukraine’s leader, President Volodomyr Zelensky, who is the guest of the world’s major democracies, sitting at the table where Vladimir V. Putin is no longer welcome.

That first summit meeting with Russia in 1997 was memorable. Mr. Yeltsin was a complicated character. A hero for standing up to Soviet hard-liners and introducing a form of…

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This article was written by Peter Baker and originally published on