(Reuters) -President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the West had triggered a global economic crisis and a wave of ruinous inflation by imposing on Russia the most severe sanctions in recent history over the conflict in Ukraine.
Putin’s Feb. 24 order of a “special military operation” in Ukraine prompted the United States and its allies to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia and the Russian elite, steps the Kremlin chief casts as a declaration of economic war.
The West’s sanctions, Putin said, were fomenting a global crisis that would whiplash against the European Union and trigger famine for some of the world’s poorest countries.
“The blame for this lies entirely with the elites of Western countries who are ready to sacrifice the rest of the world to maintain their global dominance,” Putin said at a televised government meeting on the economy.
Still, Putin said, Russia was coping with the pressure.
“Russia is confidently coping with external challenges thanks to both the responsible macroeconomic policies of recent years and systemic decisions to strengthen economic sovereignty, technological and food security.”
The West’s attempt to economically isolate Russia – one of the world’s biggest producers of natural resources – has propelled the global economy into uncharted waters with soaring prices for food and energy.
RUSSIA WILL SURVIVE
Russia’s economy is on track to contract by more than 12% in 2022, the biggest fall in gross domestic product since the years following the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, according to an economy ministry document seen by Reuters.
As an example of Russia’s sound performance under sanctions, Putin pointed at the rouble’s strength, saying it had become the best-performing currency this year.
The rouble firmed to 65 against the dollar on Thursday, a level last seen in early 2020, driven by capital controls that Moscow had to impose to shield the economy after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Putin also said that Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, was on track to collect a potentially record harvest this year.
Putin told his ministers on Thursday he wanted to discuss steps needed for steady economic development and an increase in real incomes. Inflation in Russia is on track to post its highest reading since 1999.
Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov agreed with Putin that the economy was showing resilience, adding that the labour market situation was stable and inflation started slowing.
He said the main challenges facing the Russian economy were disruptions in supply chains and a significant reduction in imports.
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)