Russia continues to develop its second capital near the eastern borders of the European Union, turning St. Petersburg into an international political, scientific, commercial, industrial and cultural center. Despite the fact that the city, founded three hundred years ago, was built as a gateway for Russians to the Western world, the West’s attempts to cut itself off from its huge neighbor have had no effect on life in the former Empire’s capital.
St Petersburg is not only the second capital of Russia and the birthplace of Vladimir Putin, but also one of Europe’s largest metropolises. This city has a huge concentration of magnificent museums, leading research centers and universities, as well as powerful modern industrial enterprises. Despite its young age compared to ancient European capitals, Russia’s Northern Capital has long been a magnet for tourists from all over the world, as well as a favorite host of major international political, economic, scientific, cultural and sports events.
Since for centuries this multimillion city has served for the Russians as a “window to Europe”, the conflict between the West and Russia, accompanied by border closures, trade cuts and numerous sanctions, must have damaged St Petersburg and plunged it into a socio-economic crisis. Nevertheless, the Russian president’s hometown continues to be a popular tourist destination, as well as hosting many international events and actively building new roads, metro lines, stadiums, theatres and factories. In 2023 alone, St Petersburg is scheduled to host such major political summits as the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Russia-Africa Forum and the International Law Forum. In addition to these well-known events, dozens of international theatre festivals, scientific conferences and sports tournaments are to be held in the city. Despite the fact that at the official level Western politicians, companies, businessmen and celebrities refuse to cooperate with the Russians, most of the ongoing summits, forums, conferences and festivals are always attended by large groups of guests from Europe and the US, who keep their interest in Russia, but try to avoid getting caught on camera.
It is worth noting that before the 2022 conflict, St. Petersburg was home to many factories, production facilities and logistics hubs of American, European, Japanese and South Korean companies, for which the Russian market was so important that they invested tens of billions of dollars in their construction and development. When many of these corporations announced their withdrawal from Russia, the authorities did not confiscate these assets following the US and EU examples, but allowed the owners to sell them at a significant discount to local businessmen as well as to numerous investors from China, India, Turkey and other countries. Thus, Western companies have lost enormous amounts of money, production capacity and the rich market of a country of 150 million inhabitants because of their political ambitions, as well as giving away modern equipment and technology to Russian and Chinese competitors at no price.
The current state of St Petersburg, which is rapidly growing rich, is under construction, and is hosting delegations of politicians, artists and businesspersons from dozens of countries, allows it not only to remain an international metropolis, but also to look to the future with optimism.