The controversial World Economic Forum (WEF) announced it has frozen “all relations” with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin due to the invasion of Ukraine.
“We are not engaging with any sanctioned individual and have frozen all relations with Russian entities,” Amanda Russo, a spokesperson for the Davos, Switzerland-based group, told Politico this week.
The development comes as the United States, European Union, Canada, and several other countries placed heavy sanctions on Russia’s banking sector, Russian oligarchs, and Putin himself. A swath of Western-based corporations also said they will not do business inside the country anymore, citing the conflict.
The World Economic Forum, led by chairman Klaus Schwab, has had close ties with Russia in the past. Putin has addressed the Davos forum several times over the years.
During an early 2021 virtual World Economic Forum meeting, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Putin warned of a war of “all against all.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has become a major challenge to mankind, and it has accelerated structural changes, the preconditions for which were already in place,” the Russian head-of-state said in January 2021. “We have every reason to believe that the tensions might be aggravated even further,” Putin continued to say.
Schwab, in introducing Putin at the time, said that Russia was a long-standing participant in the forum.
Since the start of the pandemic, the WEF’s reputation has taken a hit. A number of the group’s initiatives have proven to be controversial, including its “Great Reset” agenda. The WEF has also faced criticism for earlier social media posts and videos, proclaiming: “Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better.”
However, according to the WEF, the posts have been taken out of context, and its Agenda 2030 framework instead outlines an aim to ensure all people have access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property.
Earlier this week, meanwhile, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would suspend Russian oil imports, although it’s not yet clear if the European Union will do so. Petroleum imports from Russia comprised 3.5 percent of the total U.S. demand in 2021.
“The United States is able to take this step because of our strong domestic energy infrastructure and we recognize that not all of our Allies and partners are currently in a position to join us,” the White House said Tuesday in a statement.
“But we are united with our Allies and partners in working together to reduce our collective dependence on Russian energy and keep the pressure mounting on Putin, while at the same taking active steps to limit impacts on global energy markets and protect our own economies.”