news Monday, April 06, 2015 - 13:12

The News Minute | June 5, 2014 | 9:42 AM IST

Diplomats will tell you all about the politics of place settings. Who sits next to whom at the high table is the stuff of revolutions, revenge, revelry and rivalry.

Think about it – tables are for two, four, six, eight people – not seven.

The G-8 minus one which equals to G-7 meet for their summit dinner tonight in Brussels and talk all day tomorrow about what to do with Vladimir Putin – who has been sent out of the room – the Russian who is giving the world’s richest and most powerful countries their first attack of indigestion in 17 years.

He sells them the gas they need to survive. They abhor his games the most recent one of which is to have Crimea. Germany, France, USA, UK, Canada, Italy and Japan have to decide what punishment to mete out to Moscow for the Ukraine crisis without endangering themselves.

Energy ties with Russia are critical as Europe gets almost a third of its oil and gas supplies from Russia. Europeans have been talking about alternative strategies to free themselves from the bear-hug, but many of the economies are strapped for cash and starved of investments.

Things have turned ridiculous. Putin will be present in Brussels but not at the high table. He has bilateral meetings with some G-7 members, not all. Reports say French President Francois Hollande has scheduled two dinners on Thursday – one each with Barack Obama and Putin in order to keep the leaders apart.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has upped the warnings by announcing that Russia could face severe economic sanctions, but is also the first to sound a word of caution to her other summiteers about precipitating a crisis.

Russia seems unperturbed by the public rebuke including remaining unconcerned about who will occupy the eights chair at the high table. 

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