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26th Jan 2020

Putin: Sanctions are 'theatre of absurd'

  • Putin: Sanctions "are foolish and are merely harming" both Russia and EU. (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Russian president Vladimir Putin admitted that EU and US sanctions "are severely harming Russia" and said they are "foolish and are merely harming both sides".

"What the European Union is doing with those sanctions is nothing but a theatre of the absurd,' he said in a interview with German tabloid Bild, published on Monday (11 January)

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"The biggest harm is currently caused by the decline of the prices of energy," Putin told Bild.

"We suffer dangerous revenue losses in our export of oil and gas," he said. "Last year, the gross domestic product had dropped by 3.8 per cent. Inflation is approximately 12.7 per cent."

But the Russian president tried to find a positive side: "If you earn so many petrodollars, as we once did, that you can buy anything abroad, this slows down developments in your own country," he said.

"For the first time in many years, we are exporting significantly more goods with a high added value, and we have more than 300 billion dollars in gold reserves. Several programs for modernising the economy are being carried out," he explained.

EU economic sanctions were introduced in 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the war in Eastern Ukraine, and extended for six months last December.

'That’s not Russia’s fault'

The EU has linked the removal of sanctions to the implementation of the Minsk agreement by Russia and Ukraine.

The ceasefire is still not complete in Eastern Ukraine, with Russian troops still on the ground, and the Kiev government still has no control of the borders with Russia. But Putin lays the blame on Kiev.

"Anything that is missing in the implementation of the Minsk Agreement is, without any exception, up to the Kiev central government of Ukraine," he said, pointing to "the most important aspect… the constitutional reform, point 11 of the Minsk Agreement."

"The constitutional reform is supposed to give autonomy to eastern Ukraine and to be adopted by the end of 2015. This has not happened, and the year is over. That’s not Russia’s fault," Putin said.

The Russian president, who said he has "never changed", said Russia and the West "should cooperate much more closely in fighting terrorism, which is a great challenge" and blamed Nato for the new tensions in Europe.

"NATO and the USA wanted a complete victory over the Soviet Union," he assured.

"They wanted to sit on the throne in Europe alone. But now they are sitting there, and we are talking about all these crises we would otherwise not have."

EU states agree six-month Russia sanctions

EU states’ ambassadors in Brussels on Friday agreed to extend Russia economic sanctions for six months, despite an earlier obstruction by Italy.

Russia imposes Ukraine trade measures

Russia has cancelled free trade privileges for Ukraine from 1 January, but says it still wants to meet EU mediators this weekend.

EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail

European counter-intelligence services need to "seriously raise the level of vigilance" on Russian spies, UK activist Bill Browder has said after news of a botched operation at Davos.

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