The chief executive of Siemens has told President Vladimir Putin the German industrial giant plans long-term investment in Russia, in a key sign of confidence in Russia’s economy despite the outcry over its intervention in Crimea.
Siemens chief Joe Kaeser said at a meeting at Putin’s Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow that his company “would put the emphasis on long-term co-operation in the sphere of investment”, in comments translated into Russian by domestic news agencies.
“We will try to create beneficial conditions for our cooperation,” said Putin, whose meeting with Kaeser came amid Western calls for tougher economic sanctions in response to Russia’s takeover of Crimea.
Putin said that Siemens – which has been involved in several large projects in Russia including the Sapsan high speed Moscow-Saint Petersburg train – had been working in the country for 160 years.
Kaeser, who earlier also met with the chief executive of state gas giant Gazprom Alexei Miller, did not directly refer to the Ukraine crisis but said the company had been through many challenges during the history of its work in Russia.
“During this long period of cooperation we have become convinced that it is possible to cope with experiences if we talk to each other and not about each other,” he was quoted as saying.
Berlin has been hugely critical of Russia’s seizure of Crimea but it remains to be seen if the diplomatic tensions will affect economic ties between the two powers.
Economists have warned that Putin has taken a major gamble by seizing Crimea, risking isolation that could push Russia into recession and prompt its partners to reduce their dependence on Russian energy supplies.