Russian President Vladimir Putin has every reason to be satisfied with the results of the G8 summit on Sea Island. The political problems that generated the strongest frictions, such as the future of "the Greater Middle East" or the transfer of nuclear technologies, as well as inevitable disputes over Iraq, naturally affected Russia's interests. However, in most cases the point at issue for Moscow was principles, not vital interests, which is why it often found itself in the role of a mediator, rather than a debater, helping the sides to reach a compromise.
However, with regard to those issues where the G8 leaders were unanimous with a common vision of goals - primarily economic development and increasing global wealth - Russia was one of the most interested participants in the discussion because in this case, the point at issue was its long term-strategic interests. Ensuring economic growth and eradicating poverty, subjects that assumed a global dimension at the summit, are still high on the national agenda that President Putin long ago set for Russia. This agenda is being punctually implemented in Russia: in the first four years of Putin's presidency, economic growth in Russia reached 30%, while the country's GDP should double by 2010. This has a direct bearing on the place Russia holds in the G8.
A decade ago Russia joined the elite club of the seven industrialised nations as a large regional state possessing huge arsenals of nuclear weapons, which, along with its unforgotten Soviet past as the world's second super-power, determined its political authority. However, at first, the country was not a full member. For a very long time, Russia was not invited to the economic part of the summit, as the modesty of its economy made any such invitation senseless.
The escalation of the threats posed by international terrorism and the establishment of the anti-terrorist coalition after September 11, 2001, made Russia's presence at G8 summits absolutely necessary. However, the desire to gain a firm foothold in the G8 as a powerful economy is still Russia's goal.
It was no coincidence that Vladimir Putin spoke so much about economics on Sea Island, clearly giving it priority over politics. He started with economics, congratulating US President George Bush on the growth of the US economy and ended with the theme, hearing the G8 leaders state their support for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation.
Russia is a country concerned, first of all, about its competitiveness and economic position in the world. Vladimir Putin has been striving for such positioning since 2000 when he became Russia's president. If at the Sea Island summit he made progress in this area, then this can be considered a good result both personally and politically.
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