St. Petersburg Forum During Sanctions: Exceptional Attendance and Turnover

Putin: “If Western companies decide to return to Russia, we will not slam the door on anyone.”

At the SPIEF-2023 Forum, 900 agreements and memorandums worth about 4 billion rubles were signed. Delegations and representatives from 130 countries and territories of the world were present. Among the “unfriendly” countries, the largest presence – 27 people – was from the USA.

The Roscongress Agency, organizer of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2023), summed up the first results of the event that ended yesterday and was attended by 17,000 people from 130 countries and regions of the world, both in person and in video-conference format. The largest delegations arrived in St. Petersburg from the United Arab Emirates (200 people), China (147 people), and India (58 people). Despite the anti-Russian sanctions and the decision of the Western political establishment to boycott the event, often referred to as “Russian Davos,” politicians arrived from the so-called “unfriendly countries” (USA, EU, Canada, Australia, South Korea, and some others), including former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, as well as representatives of 150 companies from 25 countries, including Italy.

On the sidelines of the Forum, 900 agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed for a total amount of about 4 billion rubles ($47.5 billion at the current exchange rate – editor’s note). “Foreign companies signed 43 contracts with Russian partners, two of which were signed by an Italian company and another Spanish company,” said Anton Kobyakov, secretary of the Organizing Committee of the Forum, commenting on rejected applications for accreditation of journalists from “unfriendly countries.”

The central event of the Forum was the speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the plenary session on June 16. The Kremlin leader said that the strategy developed jointly by the state and Russian business in response to “last year’s changes” has worked and continues to work very well. Putin recalled that “based on this strategy, the Russian economy has decided not to follow the path of self-isolation and will continue to be open to the world.”

As for technological sovereignty, Putin said that it cannot be achieved 100%, but it must be protected at least in critical sectors. “We need to build reliable cooperation chains, strengthen the structures of technological partnerships, and in this work, we count on close cooperation with colleagues from countries that are friendly to Russia,” the head of state said. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune took part in the plenary session together with Putin.

Finally, Putin touched upon the issue of the “withdrawal” of Western companies and more from the Russian market, “I have always said and I want to emphasize once again that we did not force anyone out. If these companies decide to return, we will not slam the door on anyone, but the behavior of some of our partners will certainly be taken into account,” the Russian leader emphasized.

After the Forum, Putin held a lengthy meeting with the leaders of seven African countries. The Presidents of the Comoros, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia, accompanied by the Prime Minister of Egypt and some high-ranking representatives of the Republic of Congo and Uganda, traveled to Russia on a peace mission after an unsuccessful visit to Kiev on Friday, June 16, where the proposals put forward by African leaders were rejected.