Blog: Simon WarburtonRussian resilience will see it through crisis

Simon Warburton | 18 March 2016

Russia has seen crises come and go - will this one gradually ease this year?

Russia has seen crises come and go - will this one gradually ease this year?

I was talking to someone who works for the British Embassy in Moscow at the Russian Automotive Forum's (RAF) Cocktail Reception and we got on to why there were no British suppliers at the event.

There aren't any American component makers here either as far as I can tell, but the UK was notably absent in contrast to the French, Germans and Spanish who are here in force.

There are clearly political tensions at the moment between Moscow, London and Washington, but who knows, an incoming administration in the US and quite possibly a new British Prime Minister after the European Union referendum, may herald a 'reset' in relations.

One of the small things which could help is access to visas. Quite apart from having to secure one in the first place, they are expensive and bureaucratic, while it appears the same goes for Russians looking to go to the UK.

That reset in relations can't come quickly enough and the sooner the visa situation is sorted out, the better.

The RAF was at the Hotel Ukraina overlooking the Russian 'White House' or Parliament, outside which former President, Boris Yeltsin famously stood on a tank urging the 1991 coup supporters to back down, and which just happens to have a Rolls-Royce showroom in the lobby, this is Moscow after all.

Pride of place goes to a gleaming Wraith and it neatly encapsulates the Russian capital. Opulent wealth cheek by jowl with a population reeling from successive economic challenges.

Despite a notable improvement in Moscow traffic - it seems charging for parking has helped enormously - a helicopter took off from right in front of that White House - that's the way for - Dimity Medvedev? to beat the jams. And stuck in one of those jams this morning on the way to the airport, the driver suddenly insisted I answer his phone to my total bemusement.

Feeling pretty self-conscious I answered his mobile and without introduction, a voice just said to me: 'What time is your flight?' It took a bit of deduction to work out it was the hotel ringing to check if I had enough time in the traffic - just another small example of Russian consideration.

The weather turned noticeably colder this week - there was a blizzard of horizontal driving snow last night - but this is a country which just shrugs its shoulders at inclement weather - and economic headwinds.

Perhaps the indefatigability of Russians can be summed up by a comment made by Visteon Avtopribor Electronics general director, Alexander Kychkov at one of the RAF sessions this week.

"I believe in Russia," he said. " I urge, plead with others to believe in Russia."

This is a country with such sheer resilience, that belief is surely well founded and Russia will no doubt come back, if not in the very near future, then at least in the medium term.

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