Ministers from 26 countries and the heads of 250 foreign companies are expected to converge for the three-day St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which starts today. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, Indian PM Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin will take centre-stage later on Friday for a discussion moderated by NBC host Megyn Kelly.
Counting UN Chief Antonio Guterres and Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Fatih among its guests, the Forum is a deal-making spigot, churning out $17 billion worth of them last year. As one of the special guest nations this year, India is expected to finalise a deal with Russia to expand the Kudankulam Nuclear Power deal on the sidelines of the summit.
But it might be more difficult for Austria’s chancellor to wax lyrical about cooperation. His domestic rival, the far-right Freedom Party struck a five-year working agreement with Putin’s United Russia after losing last December’s presidential election. Much to the chancellor’s chagrin, the ex-Nazi Freedom Party is poised to gain a substantial in government at October 15’s snap elections, which will likely see Kern lose his job.