West’s anti-Russia sanctions will backfire: Putin

West’s anti-Russia sanctions will backfire: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to his supporters in Moscow on January 30, 2018, during a meeting for his campaign for Russia's upcoming presidential election in March. (AP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to his supporters in Moscow on January 30, 2018, during a meeting for his campaign for Russia’s upcoming presidential election in March. (AP photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Russian business leaders that Western countries will become weary of their sanctions against Moscow, warning that the bans will eventually backfire on the West.

“Policies of artificial restrictions are a dead-end in international relations, which result in lost opportunities and direct losses for everyone, including initiators of such policies,” Russian news agencies cited Putin as saying at a Friday meeting with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, a group of senior business leaders and tycoons .

The Russian president, however, expressed hope that the West’s relations with his country would improve soon.

“I think that those who are doing this will themselves tire of it soon, and… I hope that we will embark on the path of normal relations,” Putin stated.

He noted that the West’s policy of sanctions against Russia is not a new issue, noting, “This politics of restrictions has been ongoing for a very long time, in essence forever.”

“Even though we are being distracted by all sorts of foreign politics nonsense, on the one hand, this nonsense is empty noise and, on the other hand, this is helpful to us, because I see concern from those present in this hall regarding what will happen there (abroad), so it is better to invest here (in Russia). Our job is to create conditions and to protect these investments,” he pointed out.

The meeting came following reports of concerns among the Russian elite about the effect of the sanctions on Russia’s economy and the prospect of business ties with the West.

The session was also convened weeks ahead of Russia’s upcoming presidential election on March 18 in which Putin is expected to gain victory.

On January 30, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said Washington seeks to impose new sanctions on Russia “in the near future,” under a new law designed to punish Moscow for alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

The announcement came after the US Treasury Department published a list of 114 senior Russian political figures and 96 “oligarchs” who Washington says have gained wealth or power through links with Putin.

The list includes the names of the heads of Russia’s two biggest banks, metals magnates and the boss of the state gas monopoly Gazprom.

Moscow condemned the US move as an “unfriendly act” that would “complicate the already grave” state of US-Russian relations, but implied that Moscow would not adopt major retaliatory measures.

Ties between Moscow and Washington soured after US officials accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the allegation.

The US had also expanded its sanctions against Russia a few days before. The new sanctions added 21 people, including Russian Deputy Energy Minister Andrey Cherezov, and nine companies to the sanctions list because of what Washington called Moscow’s continued interference in Ukraine.

The armed conflict in Ukraine broke out following the ouster of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and intensified after people in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for reunification with the Russian Federation in a referendum held in March 2014.

The United States and its allies in Europe brand the reunification as annexation of the territory by Russia, accusing Moscow of having a major hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, an allegation strongly rejected by the Kremlin.

The Western countries have levied broad economic sanctions against Moscow over its alleged support for pro-Russia separatist forces in eastern Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

Russia and the US are also at odds over the Syrian crisis, as they are backing opposite sides in the conflict.

Russia has been offering military advisory support to the Syrian government in its battle against extremist militants, while the US and its allies back the Takfiri militants fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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