The US and its allies threatened countries with consequences if they decided to send delegations to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.
Speaking to TASS news agency on the sidelines of the forum in Russia’s second-largest city on Saturday, Zakharova was asked whether the West had tried to pressure nations that intended to participate in the event.
“There was immense pressure,” she replied, adding that “literally every country” was approached. “They wrote letters. Threats were made during the meetings,” she claimed.
Washington was the “leader” of these efforts, and was helped by other “NATO-centric countries,” the spokeswoman said.
The US and its allies told nations that were planning to attend SPIEF that they “would face consequences, that the next… package of sanctions is just around the corner and that everyone should think twice before participating in events on the territory of Russia,” Zakharova said.
The West has been acting in a similar manner ahead of talks between Moscow and other capitals, or the signing of major business deals between Russian firms and foreign partners, she claimed.
“Every time, curators from the US, UK, the EU either head out in advance to relevant countries… to pressure local officials and business representatives, intimidate, paint scary pictures. Or they come afterwards in order to try to destroy the agreements that had been reached,” Zakharova said.
She claimed that such efforts routinely take place ahead of visits by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the African continent.
According to Zakharova, the US and its allies target Russia’s international ties in all areas, including “culture, economy, business, politics, media cooperation.”
SPIEF, which has been held annually since 1997, welcomed some 17,000 guests from 130 countries this year, the organizers said. With Western nations dropping out of the event due to the conflict in Ukraine, most of the participants came from Asia, including China and India, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. The United Arab Emirates is the guest of honor of this year’s forum, which closes on Saturday.