The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 13, 2014

Politics test Silicon Valley's Russian ties

(Continued)

On April 3, San Jose-based Cisco, a valley leader in building ties to Russia, announced that it had won a contract to supply the video conferencing network for Moscow's water and sanitation supplier. Cisco has also reported that it is currently reviewing its Russian business practices for any possibility of corruption.

Spokesman John Earnhardt said they are watching events closely, but that Russia remains an important market.

Silicon Valley-based Dmitry Akhanov, president of the U.S. subsidiary of Russia's state-owned venture fund RUSNANO, said it has taken years to shape those East-West tech sector relationships.

"Political turmoil can happen, but business ties are much more sustainable because those are people-to-people, and those build trust," he said. "The diplomats need to calm down and think about the immediate consequences of their decisions. It's very easy to hurt an economy and much harder to rebuild."

Oleg Slepov, who heads the Russian Trade Representation's office in San Francisco, said he's spoken with many U.S. business leaders lately who tell him they have no plans to close or scale down their business in Russia.

Slepov said he's even optimistic that business ties may help ease the conflict.

"The interests of Russian and American companies are so intertwined today that, on itself, it becomes a factor that is contributing to easing of tensions between Russia and the U.S.," he said.

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