Putin forced to delay key speech due to cyberattack

Putin forced to delay key speech due to cyberattack

June 17, 2022

Humiliation for Putin as cyberattack forces him to delay key speech to economic forum dubbed ‘Russia’s Davos’

  • The Kremlin said the St Petersburg Economic Forum a denial of service attack 
  • This forced the Russian tyrant to delay a scheduled address by an hour 
  • Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said specialists were working to fix the issue
  • Russia’s flagship economic forum kicked off on Wednesday. Attendees include representatives of the Taliban and separatist authorities from eastern Ukraine

Russian president Vladimir Putin was humiliated on Friday when a cyberattack forced him to delay a key speech to an economic forum dubbed ‘Russia’s Davos’.

The Kremlin said that the St Petersburg Economic Forum had suffered from a denial of service attack, forcing the Russian tyrant to delay a scheduled address by an hour.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters that specialists were working to fix the problem, and that Putin’s keynote address had been moved back to 3pm (1300 BST).

Russia’s flagship economic forum kicked off on Wednesday, with attendees including representatives of the Taliban and separatist authorities from eastern Ukraine. The event is scheduled to run until Saturday.

Russian president Vladimir Putin (pictured Thursday) was humiliated on Friday when a cyberattack forced him to delay a key speech to an economic forum dubbed ‘Russia’s Davos’

Putin has been seeking to ramp up ties with Asia and Africa after he sent troops to pro-Western Ukraine in February and the West pummelled the country with devastating economic sanctions.

The annual forum (SPIEF), often dubbed the Russian Davos, has been the country’s main showcase for investors, attracting global leaders and business elites.

This year delegations from more than 40 countries are expected to be in attendance, including those from China, Turkey, Egypt and a number of countries in Asia and Africa.

‘Officials from unfriendly countries will not be coming,’ Putin’s top foreign policy advisor, Yuri Ushakov, said ahead of the forum in the Russian president’s hometown, using a term to describe states that have imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, a close Moscow ally, is expected to take part in the forum via video link.

Like every year, Putin was scheduled to address the forum’s plenary session on Friday, where he will focus on the subject of ‘unfair’ competition, trade and sanctions, the Kremlin said. This was delayed by the cyberattack.

The Russian leader is set to be be joined by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Kazakhstan’s Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik.

Pictured: Employees wearing personal protective equipment walk through the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 17, 2022

Putin is also expected to meet with the leaders of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine that Moscow recognised as independent before sending troops into its pro-Western neighbour.

Food security is expected to be a major topic on the agenda after Moscow’s military campaign and sanctions disrupted deliveries of wheat and other commodities from Russia and Ukraine.

Representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban arrived at the forum on Wednesday and are expected to discuss wheat supplies with Russia.

‘The situation is not easy, rather it can be described as difficult given the unprecedented economic war,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.

‘But there is no evil without good. This situation pushes us and friendly countries to search for new way of cooperation,’ he added. 

Organizers of the gathering have been telling foreign participants to be sure to bring cash – not necessarily for making investments, but for spending money. 

The advice is a quiet acknowledgment of the economic difficulties Russia faces as it tries to promote itself to international businesses.

Participants attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 17

With Russia under wide sanctions after sending troops into Ukraine, most foreign bank cards don’t work in the country. 

The attendance list is another sign of Russia’s uncertain economic prospects. As of early June, about 2,700 business representatives from 90 countries were expected to attend – far below the 13,500 participants from 140 countries reported last year.

Organizers did not provide a list of foreign businesses attending, but the program for the more than 100 panel discussions showed few speakers from outside Russia.

Some were from China, and the trade minister of the United Arab Emirates was scheduled. Denis Pushilin, leader of the Ukrainian separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, announced he plans to attend.

The forum aims to portray the country as orderly and full of attractive opportunities for clever and adventurous investors. This year’s program carries the theme to an extent that is overly optimistic for Russia’s straitened circumstances.

It comes less than four months after wide-ranging sanctions were imposed and hundreds of foreign companies pulled out of Russia, and the full effect these sanctions have had on the Russian economy is unclear.

Shuttered storefronts give Moscow’s shopping malls a foreboding atmosphere, but officials claim Russian entrepreneurs can step in to revive the consumer economy – as shown over the weekend when a Russian tycoon opened the first of the restaurants he bought from McDonald’s.

Pictured: The scene was ready for Russian President Vladimir Putin to address a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 17, 2022, however it was delayed due to a cyberattack

There was another reminder of how economic ties to the West have been cut Wednesday as Swedish furniture giant Ikea – which suspended its Russia operations in March – said it would now seek to ‘find new ownership’ for its four factories there.

The ruble, after losing half its value in the early days of the Ukraine conflict, has strengthened to levels not seen in several years after Russia imposed strict financial measures like capital controls, a heartening image for Russians but possibly a long-term problem making exports more expensive.

One of the most closely watched sessions at the forum is likely to be Thursday’s panel on Russia’s economic prospects featuring heavyweights including Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Elvira Nabiullina, head of Russia’s central bank.

Nabiullina so far has given ambiguous assessments, saying recently that ‘the effects of the sanctions are less acute than we feared… but it is premature to say that the full effect of the sanctions has manifested itself.’

One of the forum’s most popular events won’t be held: Putin’s question-and-answer session with executives of major international news organizations. 

Instead, he will meet with the heads of Russian news media and ‘front-line reporters’ from Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Peskov said prior to the event.

A representative of the Taliban also is expected, although Russia formally designates the Taliban as a terrorist group. Kremlin spokesman Peskov said this didn’t mean Russia would recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

‘There is no talk of recognizing (the Taliban),’ Peskov said Wednesday. ‘However, there are many humanitarian problems that obligate many countries to come into contact with representatives of the Taliban,’ he added.

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