Vladimir Putin was out on a mission here in his hometown to re-boot his languishing economy after political moves involving Ukraine scared off investors in the past half year.
While voters were readying for an election this weekend in Ukraine, the Russian president spent 48 hours at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum to convey a message to those in attendance, his domestic constituency and investors watching our coverage from abroad.
The images showed an engaged leader in constant dialogue with corporate titans and one helping to support dealmaking.
Putin stood proudly behind Igor Sechin, the CEO of his energy giant Rosneft, as he finalized a recent agreement with his counterpart Marco Tronchetti Provera of Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli.
The signing of seven agreements on Saturday capped off a week where Putin orchestrated a $400bn, 30-year agreement with China to export natural gas.
To underscore that moment, he invited a Chinese vice-premier to his annual roundtable. Bringing him here reinforced the new partnership and illustrates to the world Russia is moving east to Asia to capture business.
Alexey Ulyukaev, Russia Economic Development Minister and a member of “Team Putin” told a CNN emerging markets roundtable here at SPIEF. “This is our message: nothing personal, nothing political, just business.”