Published on The Moscow Times.com, Combined Reports, on June 6 (Europe still June 5, 2007).
Germany’s Angela Merkel wants to tackle global warming. Britain’s Tony Blair seeks help for Africa. U.S. President George W. Bush wants to change the subject from Iraq to areas where allied cooperation is possible.
All these hopes for the Group of Eight summit could fall victim to rising tensions with Russia, which is unhappy over U.S. plans to put an anti-missile system in its backyard.
Following is a look at the strategies the G8 leaders will be pursuing from Wednesday to Friday at the summit in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm, Germany.
Russia: President Vladimir Putin, who was last year’s host for the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, is making no secret of his unhappiness over U.S. missile defense plans. In pre-summit interviews, he warned that Moscow could take retaliatory steps if Washington proceeds with plans to place a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland. He suggested the retaliation could take the form of retargeting Russian missiles at Europe.
Putin arrives at the summit with sky-high approval ratings. A recent poll of Russian voters showed that 63 percent of those surveyed would vote for him again – even though he is barred by the Constitution from another term. (full text).