Russia: International Economic Forum kicks off
This year's Spief - or St. Petersburg International Economic Forum - is currently taking place in St. Petersburg. Although hardly any political or business leaders from Western states that have imposed sanctions on Russia are present, representatives from more than 40 other countries are attending the event. A delegation from Afghanistan has caused a stir given that the Taliban are officially considered a terrorist organisation in Russia.
The lure of Afghanistan's raw materials
State news agency Ria Novosti explains why Russia is not averse to doing business with Kabul:
“The situation with Afghanistan is paradoxical: on the one hand, the majority of the Forum's participants do not recognise the rulers there. But on the other hand, Moscow has sent the Taliban an official invitation - and no one objected. There is a simple explanation for this, and it is all about trade: Afghanistan is tremendously rich in raw materials. Factoring in its size and population, the country can easily compete with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Russia in terms of the value of its raw materials. Unlike most of the pure 'energy players', however, it has a much broader range of resources.”
There are grounds for concern
Russia's economic situation is not as ideal as Putin would have people believe, Új Szó points out:
“Russia's political leadership is trying to reassure the population that the country will survive the West's economic sanctions without any problem thanks to its Eastern partners. ... However, buying cheap oil is one thing, but on the other hand China and India cannot or will not replace the technologies that Russia lacks as a result of the sanctions. China in particular would be able to help, but the Chinese political leadership is trying to manoeuvre between Russia and the West, because the country also has crucial economic ties with the West.”