Declining Prestige: Putin’s St. Petersburg Economic Forum draws attendees from poorest nations

The prestigious stature of Putin's beloved St. Petersburg Economic Forum has plummeted to the level of the poorest African countries.

Today, Russia opens the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which Putin has long touted as a foremost platform for engagement with foreign investors. However, this year, the forum’s prestige has dropped even further, with leaders from some of the world's poorest African countries set to attend, reports from the news outlet Agentstvo.

Since the Russian army's invasion of Ukraine, Russia has become a pariah state in the eyes of the Western world, whose leaders are cutting political and economic ties with Moscow.

Yet, the decline began even earlier, following the annexation of Crimea. In 2013, the forum featured prominent attendees such as Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The year before the pandemic, which was followed by the war in Ukraine, saw the forum host significant figures like China's President Xi Jinping, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, and the President of Bulgaria.

This year, Kremlin-aligned media are attempting to promote the forum, but their efforts appear comical, given the announcements of delegations arriving from Taliban-occupied Afghanistan and the presidents of Zimbabwe and Bolivia. Guests from the Central African Republic (CAR) are expected, and Oman will be the forum's guest country. Some of these nations (CAR, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe) are among the poorest globally, and none of them consider Russia as their primary economic partner.

  Russia, St. Petersburg