Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 95

India’s recent nuclear tests and growing unrest in Indonesia dominated discussion at this weekend’s annual summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Birmingham, England. For Russia, the event marked the first time that it participated as a full-fledged member of what had formerly been the G-7. Moscow has long sought full membership in the Group. Russian officials interpreted Russia’s stepped-up role in Birmingham as further evidence of the country’s reemergence as a major player on the world stage. But a Russian proposal that the G-8 summit scheduled for the year 2000 be held in Moscow reportedly generated little enthusiasm among the assembled leaders. Japan is currently scheduled to host the summit in 2000. The Russian proposal appeared to reflect an effort by Moscow to take advantage of recently improved Russian-Japanese relations.

Although leaders of the G-8 nations on May 15 managed to issue a statement condemning India’s nuclear tests, differences among them doomed efforts by the United States, Canada and Japan to enact a coordinated series of economic sanctions against New Delhi. (International agencies, May 16-17) Russia, which has close ties to India and has spoken out against the efficacy of sanctions, lined up with the European countries against such measures. On May 16, a Yeltsin spokesman announced that the Russian president would visit India in December, and that he would raise the issue of the “inadmissibility of nuclear tests” with leaders in New Delhi. (Itar-Tass, May 16) In early January of this year, Yeltsin unexpectedly canceled a visit to India that had been scheduled for later in the month.