Boeing Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman Dennis Muilenburg has pulled out of an economic conference in St. Petersburg next week after pressure from the White House over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
“We just took the decision over the last couple days to revise our participation,” Boeing spokesman John Dern said in an email. “We’ve changed plans at the request of the U.S. government.”
Lower-level Boeing executives still will attend.
The company’s delegation will now be led by Sergey Kravchenko, the president of Boeing Russia, and will also include Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice presidents John Byrne and Marty Bentrott.
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“We’re emphasizing the fact that the company values its long-term and important relationships with its partners and customers in Russia and hopes for improved political circumstances in the future,” Dern said.
In an advance message to participants in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which starts Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote that the international community can move forward “merely by acting in concert, respecting mutual interests, and further consolidating constructive relationships.”
But as the situation in Ukraine deteriorated and Russia acted unilaterally, the Obama administration asked executives of top U.S. companies not to attend.
Boeing has deep business ties with Russia.
The jet-maker has spent $7.5 billion there since 1991 and plans to increase that to $27 billion by 2021, including $18 billion spent on titanium and $5 billion for design and engineering services, according to the company’s website.
Last fall, Boeing announced it will double the capacity of its joint venture with Russian firm VSMPO-Avisma, the world’s largest titanium producer.
At Boeing’s engineering design center in Moscow, about 250 direct employees manage a team of about 1,200 contract engineers who have worked on the 787 and 747-8 jets, among other projects.
In January, just before the crisis began, an offshoot of the Moscow center opened with an initial 50 engineers in Kiev, Ukraine.
In April, Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney said the company has “good contingency plans in place” if its business in Ukraine or Russia is disrupted.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org