Russia stages economic forum without Western firms

An annual international economic forum is underway in Russia without the participation of US, European and Japanese firms.

Moscow is apparently trying to use the conference to highlight its cooperation with China, African nations and other friendly countries.

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum opened on Wednesday. Russian officials discussed economic cooperation on Thursday in separate sessions with representatives from countries including China, Turkey and Iran.

The leader of a Russian business organization took part in a session with Chinese panelists, many of whom joined in online.

They discussed issues including cooperation between Russian and Chinese regions and payments in rubles and yuan.

Forum participants also discussed food security and surging energy prices. They have become global problems following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Delegates from Brazil, India and Senegal spoke about food-related problems that they said were exacerbated by the situation in Ukraine. Senegal currently chairs the African Union.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko accused Western nations of causing such problems by imposing sanctions on Moscow. She said sanctions are preventing food from being delivered to where it is needed and are also doubling costs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to deliver a speech on Friday. He is expected to take up issues such as food security, but seek to justify Russia's stance.