Putin humiliated as major world leaders boycott major Russian event

British-supplied missiles ‘a problem’ says Russian politician

Vladimir Putin’s highly anticipated annual economic forum witnessed a notable absence of world leaders, signalling the increasing isolation of Russia’s economy due to its ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

Previously renowned for attracting prominent figures like French President Emmanuel Macron and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, this year’s event failed to secure the presence of such influential figures on Wednesday (June 14).

According to Bloomberg reports, Western politicians were notably scarce, and even countries that were once part of the Soviet Union chose to skip the event entirely.

Chinese officials held the spotlight at the forum, with the presence of Zhang Hanhui, China’s ambassador to Moscow, and Zhou Liqun, the chairman of the Union of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Russia, drawing attention.

The bilateral trade relations between Russia and China have experienced significant growth over the past year, with officials aiming to establish an unrestricted partnership and set new records in trade volume during 2023.

However, experts have raised concerns that the deepening divide between Russia and the Western world may have dire consequences for Russia’s already fragile economy.

It comes as the Russian ruble has lost 34 per cent of its value against the US dollar since its high point just over a year ago.

Last June, 100 units of the currency bought $1.85 at the peak of Russia’s exploitation of skyrocketing prices for its energy exports. This has fallen to $1.21 today.

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Soon after the fighting broke out Russia’s central bank was forced to more than double the interest rate overnight from 9.5 per cent to 20 per cent, in a last-ditch attempt to rescue the ruble that had lost 40 per cent of its value against the US dollar.

Over the year since, as the war ground into one of attrition and Moscow replaced the loss of its European market with exports to China and India, policymakers gradually brought the rate back down to 7.5 per cent.

In January, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) upgraded its prediction for Russia’s economic growth in 2023 from 0.3 per cent to 0.7 per cent. The UN’s Washington-based financial agency has suggested, however, that military spending has been artificially propping up this figure, and that the underlying economy is actually far weaker.

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