White House urging US CEOs to avoid Russian forum

Top executives at major United States companies are reconsidering or withdrawing their participation in a Russian international economic forum after being pressed by the Obama administration to drop out amid the growing crisis in Ukraine.

Among those officials calling executives have been Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama.

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, held this year from May 22 to May 24, is an annual affair prized by Russian President Vladimir Putin as validation of his country's economic influence.

Among those who participated in last year's forum but won't this year is Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat. Citigroup spokesman Mark Costiglio said that while Corbat would not attend, the company would have several other representatives at the forum.

"Obviously companies will have to make their own decisions, but we believe that the most senior business executives traveling to Russia to make high-profile appearances with Russian government officials at events such as this would send an inappropriate message, given Russia's behavior, including its clear failure to carry out its commitments under the Geneva accord," White House spokeswoman Laura Lucas Magnuson said.

She said U.S. government officials will not attend the forum this year.