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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Media Call Summit a Setback for Russia

APU.S. President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin greeting the cameras Saturday before bilateral talks.
The G8 summit was a personal disappointment for President Vladimir Putin and a geopolitical setback for Russia, which failed to secure entry into the World Trade Organization as events in the Middle East overshadowed the big show in St. Petersburg.

That was the consensus of the nation's leading media outlets Monday, as Putin wrapped up a rocky summit that produced no breakthroughs on energy security or infectious diseases, key G8 issues this year.

In an article headlined "Lebanon, Iran, WTO: The G8 Summit Didn't Go According to Hosts' Plans," the privately owned Nezavisimaya Gazeta said the biggest blow to Putin came from Iran.

Despite initially voicing interest in a proposal backed by Russia and five other countries calling for Tehran to halt uranium enrichment in exchange for economic and diplomatic aid, Iran has yet to respond definitively to the plan.

"On Saturday morning, the diplomatic maneuvering of the United States, which put an end to any Russian hopes of joining the World Trade Organization anytime soon, appeared to be the most awful blow to the image of the G8 hosts," Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. "But by the evening, it became clear that the main blow -- right to Russia's president -- came from where it was not expected. ... Iran, despite promising Vladimir Putin otherwise, refused to accept the six-power nuclear proposal."

Kommersant, owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili, an associate of Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, said the G8, far from being an elite club of nations with a shared purpose, had morphed into "an informal alternative to the United Nations Security Council."

In the summit's wake, the paper added, Moscow was seeking an alternate axis of power revolving around Russia, China and India. After bidding farewell to the G8 leaders Monday, Putin held meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Chinese and Indian leaders were also in St. Petersburg for the summit, which included some emerging powers.

Novye Izvestya and Gazeta, meanwhile, focused on the summit's price tag.

"Expensive guests!" Novye Izvestya wailed. "The G8 summit cost Russia a pretty penny." The paper noted that Russia spent more than $1 million for a single lunch in Peterdvor. Gazeta observed that Russia spent $400 million on the summit -- more than double what Britain spent on last year's summit at Gleneagles, in Perthshire, Scotland.

Izvestya, owned by state-controlled Gazprom, said wind and rain had ruined plans for an evening barbecue on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. And the television station Rossia reported U.S. President George W. Bush was unable to take a bike ride due to security concerns.