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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anger Over NATO Airstrikes Not Hurting U.S. Businesses




Although anti-American sentiment is running high over NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia, the Russian operations of U.S. companies are not suffering, U.S. business officials said Wednesday.


While almost half of all American companies are taking additional security measures, none has been victimized by vengeful politicians or outraged citizens, contrary to a spate of rumors swirling in expatriate circles, the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia said a survey of 55 companies had found.


"The short answer is that there is nothing going on," said Joe Serio of Kroll Associates, a security firm that serves American businesses in Moscow. "We are seeing no increase in harassment of employees, and no direct threats of a business nature."


Anger over Washington's role in the NATO attacks had hovered near boiling point in recent weeks, fueled by statements of Russian politicians and media.


A botched grenade attack on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow late last month raised concerns that American businesses would become targets as well.


Many U.S. businesses scrambled to adopt precautions such as checking incoming mail, removing American flags from shipping containers and reducing participation in events.


Serio says his firm received a flurry of phone calls from clients after the NATO bombing campaign began, but in recent days the calls have dropped off as anti-war passions have cooled in Moscow.


Even so, he added, American businesses might face security problems if the Balkan conflict escalates into a general ground war.


That warning was echoed by American Chamber of Commerce president Scott Blacklin. "If it escalates into a ground conflict, all bets are off," he said.


He added that in the days after the NATO campaign began, when anti-American passions reached a fever pitch, many corporations had been close to enacting emergency evacuation plans.


"I think this came pretty close to the trigger point," he said. "If that grenade launcher had worked and blown a hole in the American Embassy, that might have done it."