Business Leaders Send Strong Message to Putin
Business leaders at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) told CNBC that they want to see Russia reform and re-engage with the outer world, politically and economically.
Bernard Sucher, former country head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Russia who is now at the Russian investment firm Aton, told CNBC that Russia had to urgently address structural reforms.
"The structural issues clearly have not been addressed over the last couple of years and we've seen the impact in the decline in investment here," he told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" at SPIEF.
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He added that Russia's resistance to reform had contributed its slowdown - seen over five consecutive quarters - a deterioration that prompted the country's economic ministry to cut the country's growth forecasts for 2013 in April, from 3.6 percent to 2.4 percent.
Russia was just "muddling" along, Sucher said. "There's not enough competitive stimulus in the economy…We've had words but no actions [on reform] - we haven't seen anything in a long time."
"What this economy needs is to see political change, changes to its infrastructure and reform and we need to encourage Russia to do that," he said. Reforms would give investors a "fresh" perspective on the country and could encourage them to invest.
The chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) told CNBC that Russia would see job creation and growth if it reconnected to the rest of the world on a trade level.
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"I think that after the G20 in September [and the G-8 meeting last week], one of the things that should be foremost is that Russia needs to engage with international trade and commerce," Harold 'Terry' McGraw told CNBC.
His comments come after Russia isolated itself on the political stage during the Group of Eight (G-8) meetings in Northern Ireland. The summit revealed an impasse between Russia and other global powers over the conflict in Syria, with Russia standing alone.
McGraw said that Russia was not the only culprit for isolating itself in global politics.
"I would say it's not just Russia, it's the BRICS overall- they're all starting to take more nationalistic views [on global affairs]," he said, emphasising the need to find agreements over trade which would be crucial to economic recovery.
"OK, we can't agree on everything but we have to work on what can we agree on- we've got to start moving up the chain to allow for multi-lateral trade agreements," McGraw said, emphasizing the need for Sino-U.S. relations to improve.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Ericsson, Hans Vestberg, told CNBC that he wanted to see Russia invest in its social infrastructure. "We've been established here for a long, long time…The whole telecommunication revolution has a huge impact on society and we see that coming here as well. This is an important market."
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The group has over 6 billion mobile broadband subscriptions in the world which would reach up to 9 billion in "a couple of years' time" and that Russia would very much be a part of that growth.
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, the chief executive of Schneider Electric also underscored the importance of the country for future growth. Russia is the French electric company's fourth largest market.
"We've been convinced [in Russia's business prospects] for a long time - we've been here for fifteen years.. we have 10,000 people here working for us. It's very central to our business."
-By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt