On Wednesday, The World Economic Forum (WEF) said it was freezing all relations with Russia, and that it would not allow anyone on the sanctions list to take part in its annual meeting in Davos. “Following its condemnation of Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine, the forum is complying with the evolving international sanctions and following the rapidly-developing situation,” the WEF said in a statement sent to AFP.
“Therefore the forum freezes all its relations with Russian entities, and will not engage with any sanctioned individual or institution in any of our activities, inclusive the annual meeting” in Davos, the Klaus Schwab-led organization continued.
The WEF has joined an avalanche of global sanctions against banishments of Russian nationals and interests. The Western world has responded to the conflict with crippling sanctions against the Russian Federation, including bans on Kremlin oil exports.
Among those who have been slapped with Western sanctions over the invasion is President Vladimir Putin himself, who has participated in several Davos meets. The WEF usually hosts its annual gathering of the global political and business elite in the luxury Swiss resort of Davos in January, but the meeting has been postponed until May 22-26 this year due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, reports France 24.
In Putin’s 2021 speech to Davos attendees, his first since 2009, the Russian leader was critical of U.S. big tech and social media organizations. “Modern technological giants, especially digital companies, have started playing an increasing role in the life of society. Much is being said about this now, especially regarding the events that took place during the election campaign in the US,” Putin said during last year’s address. “They are not just some economic giants. In some areas, they are de facto competing with states.
“In the opinion of these companies, their monopoly is optimal for organizing technological and business processes,” Putin continued. The Russian leader also expressed concern that big tech companies could “usurp” legal institutions across the globe and advance social issues regardless of how the native population feels. He referenced the 2020 U.S. election and preceding polarization as an example of this “phenomena.”
Putin added that “Russia and Europe belong together”, but now Russia will no longer have the option of attending the WEF conference.
Klaus Schwab and Borge Brende, who serves as WEF president, said in a statement that the forum deeply condemns the “attacks and atrocities” committed by Russia against Ukraine. “Our full solidarity is with Ukraine’s people and all those who are suffering innocently from this totally unacceptable war,” the two said. “We will do whatever is possible to help and actively support humanitarian and diplomatic efforts. We only hope that — in the longer-term — reason will prevail and that the space for bridge-building and reconciliation once more emerges.”
Private companies such as Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, BP, Shell, McDonald’s, and many more have also shut down business operations in Russia as a result of the war. On the cultural front, Russian cats have been barred from animal competitions while the country’s gamers have been barred by Xbox and PlayStation.