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.
Most forecasts say the Russian economy is likely to stagnate for the foreseeable future, said Chris Miller, assistant professor of international history at Tufts University’s Fletcher School and author of The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the USSR. But for certain sectors like services and consumer goods, Russia remains an important market, and the risk of expropriation of property is much lower than for companies that have major property interests there, such as energy conglomerates or manufacturers, Miller said.
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