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Putin: Sanctions made Russia stronger

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-06-16 07:55


Putin: Sanctions made Russia stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a live nationwide televised call-in in Moscow on Thursday.Mikhail Klimentyev / Kremlin Via Reuters

MOSCOW - Russia has climbed out of recession despite the continuing Western sanctions, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, adding that the restrictions have forced the country to "switch on our brains" to reduce its dependence on energy exports. Speaking in a live call-in show televised nationwide, Putin deplored the US Senate's decision on Wednesday to impose new sanctions on Russia as a reflection of Western efforts to contain Russia but insisted that the measures only have made the country stronger.

The US Republican-led Senate voted on Wednesday to punish Moscow for allegedly interfering in last year's election by approving a wide-ranging package of sanctions that targets key sectors of Russia's economy and individuals who are suspected of carrying out cyberattacks.

The Senate bill follows up on several rounds of other sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over Russia's annexation of Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

Putin argued that Russia has done nothing to warrant the Senate's move, saying it highlights the West's policy of containing Russia and also reflects domestic infighting in the US.

"It's evidence of a continuing internal political struggle in the US," he said.

"If it wasn't for Crimea, other problems, they would have invented something else to deter Russia," he said.

Putin said that the sanctions have given Russia an incentive to shed its dependence on oil and gas exports and "switch on our brains and talents" to develop other industries. He emphasized that electronics, aerospace industries and agriculture have all received a boost.

Russia has responded to the Western sanctions by halting most Western food imports, a move that has helped increase Russian agricultural output.

Russian farmers have pleaded with the Kremlin to keep the import ban even if the West lifts its sanctions, but Putin said that if "our partners lift the sanctions against our economy, we will respond in kind".

The Russian leader claimed that the "crisis is over", pointing at modest economic growth over the past nine months, low inflation and rising currency reserves.

Putin said that a slump in oil prices had been a more important factor in Russia's economic slowdown than the sanctions.

He acknowledged that the Russian economy hasn't yet shed its dependence on exports of raw materials, but noted that non-energy exports have been growing.

Putin recognized that people's incomes have fallen and 13.5 percent of Russians now live below the poverty line.

Ap - Reuters


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