Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser gave a rare sign of German support to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the height of an economic standoff with the West over Ukraine. He met with Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, saying his firm emphased a “trusting relationship” with Russian companies and did not pay too much attention to “short-term turbulences” in its business planning. Kaeser also said that the German government was aware of his trip and that he was not pressured. However, it is unclear to me whether the company has a political preference or Kaeser’s move is purely out of the benefits of the company and its stakeholders.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was asked during a news conference in Berlin whether she was opposed to Kaeser’s meeting with Putin. She stressed that while business with Russian companies was not yet part of the sanctions – and she hoped they would not become one – she also trusted German businesses would comply if economic sanctions were expanded to include company dealings with Russia. It would be interesting to watch Siemens’ reaction if the EU were to push for broader sanctions that include businesses.