A high-profile Russian delegation was in Ottawa this week to discuss the priorities for Russia's G-8 presidency and the upcoming summit in St. Petersburg.
Igor Shuvalov, a top aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is also known as a "Russian G8 sherpa", led the delegation hosted by Russian Ambassador Georgiy Mamedov. The delegation's meetings in Ottawa were also scheduled to look at relations between Canada and Russia.
Russia's priorities for the G-8, which it hosts for the first time in July, are international issues of energy security, education and health care.
As the giant country's officials point out, securing a reliable energy supply "is crucial for sustainable economic development and political stability in the world." The leaders must look at energy security in the context of global climate change and the fact that many of the world's poorest countries can't access "pure and affordable energy," the embassy noted in a release.
When it comes to education, the Russian embassy officials said expert knowledge and access to information are crucial to the growth of national economies and the quality of life of their citizens. Even G-8 countries have problems with education, particularly in linking educational systems and labour markets, the Russians explained, adding that there's also a disconnect between education and required fields of expertise.
Meanwhile, poor countries' inability to adopt new technology that would enable them to compete in unskilled-labour fields internationally may seriously obstruct the progress of the global economy and social prosperity, the Russians contended.
On the health care front, they want G-8 members to take a serious look at the threat infectious diseases pose to humanity.
"That such diseases spread at a different rate and take a different toll in various regions and communities is a litmus test of aggravating hardship, discrimination, social injustice, and a widening gap and strengthening tension between developed and developing nations," the embassy notes. "Such diseases as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and new ones like avian flu grossly impede nations economically and socially and are a threat to sustainable development."