Exxon Mobil Corp CEO Rex Tillerson addressed the World Petroleum Congress today... in Moscow. While the United States government has discouraged American attendance, Tillerson has historically close ties with both Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin — who is currently under sanctions as the head of oil giant Rosneft.
Tillerson addressed the WPC along with Sechin, ahead of Exxon's plan to drill in the Arctic in partnership with the government-owned Rosneft. Sechin has been sanctioned by the United States since April, however, that does not prevent the two companies from doing business together. The sanctioning also does not prohibit Tillerson and Sechin's interactions, such as appearing at a conference together. While it is technically legal, it is sort of a slap in the face to U.S. sanctions, which have been criticized as weak already.
Lucas Magnuson, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, discouraged U.S. attendance at the Moscow conference saying, "We do not believe it is appropriate to return to 'business as usual' in Russia." Still, Exxon and Rosneft have continued "business as usual" in regards to their Arctic deal, as $900 billion is on the line.