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Ukraine conflict postpones Russia event at 3M

jameswarden//March 12, 2014

Ukraine conflict postpones Russia event at 3M

jameswarden//March 12, 2014

The ongoing confrontation between the United States and Russia over events in Ukraine has disrupted a “U.S. Russia Innovation Week“ planned later this month in St. Paul, but Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said it’s more important than ever for the event to go forward.

The event, which starts March 24, was planned alongside the fifth meeting of the U.S. Russia Innovation Working Group, which was formed in 2011 to bolster research and business cooperation. Two working group meetings have occurred in Russia and two in the United States, with the stateside meetings at San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco, in March 2012, and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, in April 2013.

But Ukrainian hostilities have prompted the U.S. State Department to postpone the one-day working group that was scheduled at Maplewood-based 3M Co., Ritchie said. That postponement is part of a larger move to halt U.S.-Russian collaboration, including an Obama administration decision to suspend bilateral trade and investment talks. In addition, Russia’s ambassador to the United States had to withdraw because of other obligations.

Still, Minnesota’s Innovation Week activities are set to continue as planned, he said. Another Russian diplomat will be coming in the ambassador’s place. Companies, universities, nonprofits and others will share ideas and explore potential collaboration. There will be a trade show, a visit to the Minnesota Zoo’s Russian grizzly exhibit and tours of Minnesota companies. With the rhetoric heating up overseas, Ritchie said it’s vital to continue cultivating this kind of collaboration.

“I think all of the parties have more or less the same view, that the conversation is more important now than six months ago when the State Department asked me to do it,” said Ritchie.

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