The latest U.S. sanctions against Russia that are due to take effect today throw even greater doubt on an idea President Vladimir Putin floated in his Helsinki news conference with President Donald Trump. Putin said the two had agreed to form a “working group” of “captains of Russian and American business” to try to improve economic cooperation. The proposal already was far-fetched then, considering years of rising tensions and escalating sanctions, most notably in April. But it illustrates two points about the evolution of U.S.-Russian business relations: how much trade and investment continues nevertheless, and the limited influence that business leaders on both sides really have over each country’s foreign policy.
The proposal for a business working group was one of the few specifics to come out of a two-hour private meeting between the two presidents in Helsinki on July 16.
“We paid more attention to economic ties and economic cooperation,” Putin said in the news conference. “It’s clear that both countries — the businesses of both countries — are interested in this.” (Read more….)