THE summit had yet to finish when Vladimir Putin decided to split. That was in the autumn of 2014: war was raging in eastern Ukraine, the Group of 20 was meeting in Australia, and the Russian president faced a frosty reception from Western leaders. He had been booted out of the Group of Eight (G8) and, in Barack Obama’s words, “isolated”. Cameras captured him eating lunch alone like a shunned schoolboy.
Though Russia’s posture has hardly changed since, the times have. This week Mr Putin has been hosting his own parade of world leaders in the run up to the World Cup final in Moscow on July 15th. The following day he will be in Helsinki to meet Donald Trump, who has called for Russia to be readmitted to the G8. Their tête-à-tête, to be held, as it happens, on the eve of the anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, will double as the death knell for the West’s policy of isolating Russia. “There’s an asymmetry: for Russia, the…Continue reading