For years, Russia has hosted world leaders and business titans at its annual economic forum in St. Petersburg, but the “Russian Davos” will see little of the global financial elite this year, with Moscow isolated by sanctions for his actions in Ukraine.
This week, to make up for the lack of major Western participants, Russia is giving pride of place to smaller players or countries like China – the world’s second largest economy – which have not joined the sanctions.
“Foreign investors don’t just come from the United States and the European Union,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday (June 14), pointing to the Middle East and Asia.
President Vladimir Putin will deliver an important speech on Friday on the international economic situation and Russia’s tasks in the near future, Interfax news agency quoted Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov as saying.
He will also meet the media on the sidelines of the forum around 8 p.m. Moscow time that day, he said.
The Kremlin launched the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in 1997 to attract foreign investment, discuss economic policy, and project the image that it was open for business after the fall of the Soviet regime.
Russia has long compared SPIEF to the World Economic Forum, the annual blue ribbon event for global figures held in the Swiss alpine resort of Davos.
Now that Western leaders are avoiding relations with Russia, Putin will no longer have a traditional meeting with political players and corporate bigwigs from the United States and Europe.
There were no names of US and European companies or their CEOs on the schedule released for SPIEF for June 15-18 – reflecting fears of sanctions under the most sweeping sanctions regime ever imposed on a major power. .
Even companies that have hung on in Russia despite the general exodus of Western investors have not been listed.
Ushakov said high-level delegations from more than 40 countries were expected, while 1,244 Russian companies and 265 foreign companies had confirmed their attendance.
In an exception to the absence of Western figures, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia along with his French and Italian counterparts will speak Thursday at a session titled Western Investors in Russia: New Reality.
Russia’s relations with the West have turned toxic since it sent armored forces to Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a “special military operation” to eliminate threats to its security. Ukraine and its Western supporters call Russia’s actions an unprovoked invasion aimed at seizing territory.
SPIEF will therefore look and feel very different.
After hosting former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ex-IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, Citi’s Vikram Pandit and ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson, Russia will feature presidents of allied states this week. from Kazakhstan and Armenia.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will address the meeting via video link, RIA news agency quoted Ushakov as saying.
As foreign companies write billions off their once-promising Russian investments, domestic corporations and banks are rushing to take over companies left behind.
“Sanctions are long term. Globalization as it was has come to an end,” Andrey Kostin, CEO of sanctioned bank VTB, Russia’s second largest, told the RBC business daily.