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Without EU Cash, Russian Business Is Sunk

Published: August 1, 2014 (Issue # 1822)




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Before the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, it was hard to see how the Europeans were going to implement serious economic sanctions against Russia. But the shooting-down of a civilian airliner has been a political game-changer and has rapidly pushed formerly reluctant countries like Germany and France to a position that was widely considered impossible not even a full month ago.

It is possible, of course, that the Europeans will lose their nerve. Stranger things have happened than the European Union changing course at the last minute, and nothing prevents the sanctions from being softened a week, a month or, God forbid, even a year down the line.

Given the political reality, however, and the Russian government's continued and loud insistence that it has nothing to apologize for, it now seems probable that Russia will be faced with a sanction regime for the short and medium terms. I'd like to forecast a reduction in tensions in Ukraine because that country has suffered enough already. But over the past five months, every time it appeared that things had finally started to get better, they rapidly relapsed.

So what will the sanctions do? The consensus view among most economists is that they will be a serious, if not catastrophic, problem.

In particular, Western analysts express broad agreement that the latest sanctions will substantially limit Russian companies' ability to borrow and will make that borrowing much more expensive. After all, it is hard to structure a deal when no one knows whether the bank funding it will soon be on a Western blacklist.

The Russian finance sector is largely at a standstill already, a combination of the sanctions themselves and the pervasive uncertainty they have inspired. Russia has benefited greatly from its ability to access long-term credit in Western financial systems, particularly London, and that access is now sharply constrained.

Many people — particularly those who work in, or are sympathetic to, the Russian government — argue that the sanctions will actually help Russia by forcing it to more intensively develop certain areas of its economy.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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