Emmanuel Macron was guest of honour at event in St. Petersburg
With tensions running high between Russia and the West the International Economic Forum was a moment for Vladimir Putin to show that his country is not isolated and for Macron to show he can play a key leadership role for Europe and to ensure French companies maintain their presence in Russia.
"It's very important that those commerecial relationship work within the framework of political dialogue between heads of state. So, I'm very much in favour and very happy about this dialogue here today" said Gerard Mestrallet a french businessman who has been working with Russia for decades.
Despite the sanctions imposed by the West that have targeted Russian companies since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 some businessmen remain defiant:
“Well, we Russians are not scared of anything You know sanctions can have positive impact as well. Our brains start to work, how to get around with these sanctions, what we can do to prevent the disruption of Russian economy and we do it. Look how much the Russian economy has grown. The more sanctions the West puts, for us it’s better” said Samoylov Andrei Viktorovich of POLYMIX.
After Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran’s nuclear deal, the French President visited Vladimir Putin for the first time on Russian soil. And despite the political differences and the economic sanctions, major business deals were signed here. Well, France remains the leading foreign investor in Russia.