French companies are in no hurry to leave Russia

However, in France the movement is more timid. In addition to groups hampered by European sanctions, shipowner CMA CGM has announced a halt to Russian ports, but more “for security reasons” than for economic retribution. TotalEnergies decided it would “no longer invest in new projects in Russia” without mentioning any withdrawal from a country in which it has significant interests.

“The Fundamental Problem”

“The position of TotalEnergies has been brought to the attention of the French authorities, who have understood it well,” said the group, whose president Patrick Pouyanne was received in Bercy and also at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday evening as part of the meeting. Trianon, which brings together Franco-Russian civil societies. As for Societe Generale, heavily exposed through its subsidiary Rosbank, on Thursday he simply assured that he would be able to resist if he was deprived of this asset in Russia.

On the government’s side, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire saw a “fundamental problem” in companies working with those close to Russian power, but did not call on French companies to reconsider their presence in the country at all. On Monday, UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwartang said on Twitter that “British business now has a strong moral obligation to isolate Russia.”

Le Maire coaster

Bruno Le Maire was also forced to back down after declaring that the European Union was going to “wage an all-out economic and financial war against Russia”, deeming the word “war” to be “inappropriate”. His remarks drew a sharp backlash and a thinly veiled threat from former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

For the government, it’s more of a “support” for companies affected by the fallout from the conflict in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia, Foreign Trade Minister Frank Riester said on Tuesday after meeting with sixty companies, including a majority of CAC40. and professional federations.

After an update on the geopolitical situation and the development of the conflict in Ukraine, this meeting also gave the Orsay and Bercy embankments the opportunity to warn companies about the prospect of a prolonged conflict with the possibility of Russian counter-sanctions against Western interests.

“No Direction”

The Foreign Ministry is now calling on its website for travelers – tourists and professionals – to “leave the country immediately” as flights to Russia become increasingly scarce, and to “postpone any travel to Russia.” “The perception of a conflict that could escalate and protract has had a strong impact on business, especially a fairly resilient business community that quickly adapts to local circumstances,” says a diplomatic source.

But more specifically, “there have been no announcements or specific instructions for companies as to what position to take” regarding our presence in Russia, one participant said. “At this stage, there have been no requests to disconnect,” added a participant from the agri-food sector. The other ensures that he was not asked to “recall the foreign workers”. “The government has not asked companies to stop their activities in Russia, but its representatives have asked if they are considering any action,” confirms another.

France is the largest foreign employer in Russia and the second largest provider of foreign direct investment, and therefore has commercial relations not only with Russia, which may complicate the exit from the country.