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Intel attends SPIEF despite US pressure

Dow-listed Intel was present at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia's biggest business summit, despite pressure from the U.S. government for companies to veto the event.

Intel's head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa told CNBC why:

"We have been here (in Russia) for about 20 years," said Christian Morales from the sidelines of the conference on Thursday.

"This trip was planned for a long-time, and I am coming here many times a year, several times a year. There is a lot of co-operation with the ICT industry in Russia… we have strong links with the country."

Russia has become the target of Western ire due to its aggression towards neigboring Ukraine, whose Crimea region it has annexed.

Both the U.S. and the European Union have hit Russia with an escalating series of sanctions. These include visa bans and asset freezes on companies and officials in both Ukraine and Russia with links to President Vladimir Putin.

Slideshow: Oligarchs and billionaires hit by Ukraine sanctions

Under pressure from the U.S., some companies have chosen to skip this year's SPIEF, which is a flagship event for Russia.

Companies absent from the event include industrial bellwether Alcoa. Klaus Kleinfeld, the CEO of the aluminium producer told CNBC: "We have decided to this year not to attend the St Petersburg economic forum. The situation is unfortunate. I hope that the diplomatic efforts that are on the way leads to a resolution soon."

However, Morales said that Russia was too important a market for Intel to avoid SPIEF.

"Russia has about 140 million people," he told CNBC. "We have a lot of technology users in this country. There is a lot of build-up in cloud, in data centers, in the internet of things, wearables. There is vibrant ICT activity."

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