On Thursday, February 24, Vladimir Putin summoned 37 heads of state companies and Russian businessmen to the Kremlin, including five representatives of the IT industry: Alexander Shulgin, CEO of Ozon.ru; Tigran Khudaverdyan, Managing Director of Yandex Group; Vladimir Kirienko, CEO of VK; Vladimir Evtushenkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSFC "Sistema"; and Mikhail Oseevsky, President of Rostelecom. The president called the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine a "forced measure" and threatened businesses with responsibility for refusing to work with Russian companies subject to sanctions.
"Of course, we all understand what kind of world we live in, and have been preparing one way or another for what is happening now in terms of restrictions and sanctions policy," the president continued. "Russia remains part of the world economy... And we are not going to damage the system in which we feel a part,"
Putin urged business to "work in solidarity with the government in search of tools that would support production, the economy, and jobs, but proceed from the realities that are emerging."
"Russian business will have to work in difficult conditions, taking into account restrictions of all kinds," said Alexander Shokhin, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
"The new sanctions will be much tougher than all previous restrictions. They will affect many sectors: the financial sector, extractive industries, the supply of technological equipment, certain types of raw materials and components, and supply chains, transport and logistics chains may be disrupted... Russian companies will have to work even more energetically and efficiently, ensure uninterrupted operation of their enterprises, avoid job cuts, shortages, rush demand, price spikes," Shokhin continued. We will have to be more active in implementation of the import substitution strategy and look for new partners in those countries that are ready to continue cooperation”,
Alexander Shokhin said.
The meeting touched upon the issue of responsible behavior of business towards Russian companies which are or will be sanctioned by the West.
If a Russian company refuses to work with the bank under sanctions because of its own risks (the threat of secondary sanctions), it can be held accountable, voiced at the meeting. The bill on criminal liability for avoiding business cooperation with companies under sanctions was passed in the first reading back in 2018, but was then suspended due to criticism from businesses.
After Moscow recognized the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) and the "Luhansk People's Republic" (LPR) as independent and due to the military actions in Ukraine, sanctions against Russia were imposed by the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, and a number of other states.