Saturday, June 20, 2015

Thousands in St. Petersburg Defy US Sanctions

Thousands in St. Petersburg Defy US Sanctions

by Stephen Lendman

A previous article discussed the opening of the 19th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) - an annual three-day event attracting thousands of participants.

They include world political and business leaders, journalists and others from dozens of countries worldwide - including from China, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, South Korea and America.

They came despite US sanctions and ones Washington bullied EU countries to impose.

Around 1,000 companies confirmed their participation - including 440 from Europe, Asia and America. They came to finalize deals worth hundreds of billions of rubles.

Top executives from Boeing, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase International, Societe Generale, Siemens, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Philip Morris International, McKinsey & Company, Enel, Pirelli, Schlumberger, Amsted Rail, Austria's UniCredit Bank, and TPG capital arrived among others - despite Washington pressuring Western companies not to attend.

At least 12 US CEOs among dozens of other US corporate officials attended. European business executives outnumbered their American counterparts. A hostile White House statement said:

"Through our combined sanctions, restrictive measures and reduced diplomatic engagement, we have sent a clear signal to Russia's leadership that we will not return to business as usual. We have communicated our position to the US business community in multiple fora."

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "business circles are interested in Russia as evidenced by the guest list of the forum."

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko said more representatives from international companies participated than last year - "despite attempts by some countries to isolate Russia."

Companies worldwide want to do business in Russia despite US-led Western pressure not to - a positive sign amid continuing disturbing events.

A previous article discussed irresponsible French and Belgian Russian asset freezes - in blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Moscow promised appropriate retaliation in response if things can't be resolved sensibly.

On Thursday, AP News reported Washington and EU countries "read(ying) a new round of penalties against Russia targeting its energy and financial sectors as part of a sanctions-in-waiting strategy that officials hope will enable the West to respond immediately if Moscow-backed insurgents seize more territory in Ukraine."

Kiev commits crimes. Russia and Donbass freedom fighters get blamed. EU countries go along with wrongheaded US policies hurting their interests.

New sanctions may block Russian government and business officials from traveling to Western countries, as well as attempt to curtail its energy exports and prevent its banks from engaging in international Swift system transactions.

So far, no agreement was reached "on what level of response would be appropriate for each" nonexistent "infraction," AP said.

How far EU countries intend going remains to be seen. Sanctions cut both ways - hurting European nations in a lose-lose game. Russia bashing doesn't work.

At least eight EU countries oppose sanctions altogether. So does business throughout the continent. Perhaps it's just a matter of time before most European nations say no more to self-destructive policies.

Russia bashing over Ukraine or any other pretext is red herring cover for Washington's longstanding regime change objective - replacing Putin with a convenient stooge it controls.

How far lunatics in Washington intend going remains to be seen. So far they're waging war on Russia by other means - politically and economically. Will direct confrontation follow?

Russian expert Stephen Cohen thinks things "could easily become as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis." Powerful people in the West and Kiev want war, not peace, he believes.

This writer believes flashpoint conditions today are much more dangerous than earlier. Jack Kennedy was president during the missiles of October crisis. He later admitted he had no intention of attacking Soviet Russia. Obama is no Jack Kennedy.

Rick Rozoff's Stop NATO web site reports US-led Alliance members tripling their number of military exercises in the past two years - including over 300 this year, many close to Russia's borders.

Is Washington preparing for war on Russia? Is the unthinkable likely? Increasing numbers of US combat troops and heavy weapons in Eastern Europe up the stakes. 

Attacking Russia means possible nuclear war. Given America's rage for regime change, don't count anything out.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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