The Finnish Residence
After leaving the diplomatic service, I worked six years for Finnish Industry, which took me back again to Moscow and Russia. Business always assesses risks and it has been clear to all players that trading with Russia involves risks. The default of 1998 was still fresh on everybody’s mind. Some of the players were burned children but still they decided to come back. Risk is part of business and Russia is no exception. As an oil executive put it, all our exploration activities are located in high-risk areas and Russia is not the worst case.
How to assess this risk was not easy and it did not seem like a burning issue when the market was good and exports boomed. I have to admit that although I did underline that trading with Russia always involves country risk I failed to consider it the critical issue. Who could have foreseen that this country risk would materialize fully? The Eastern Partnership initiative of the EU has in hindsight been criticized for not having assessed the implications correctly. Still President Janukovich negotiated in good faith with the EU before he abruptly reversed course. What when wrong? — A lot.