Moscow (The Times Groupe)- Russian President Vladimir Putin says the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine are “mad and thoughtless”.
Speaking at a forum in St. Petersburg, he stated that “the economic blitzkrieg against Russia had no chance of succeeding”.
In his view, the restrictions were more harmful to those who imposed them.
Western nations have been trying to strike a balance between punishing Russia and protecting their economies.
President Putin, speaking at the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum, said the EU could lose more than $400 billion (£326 billion) due to its sanctions against Russia.
According to him, inflation is increasing across the 27-member bloc and the real interests of people are being ignored – but he did not specify what he meant.
Even Mr Putin’s officials have warned that the sanctions are causing serious damage to the Russian economy. Elvira Nabiullina, head of the central bank, said the international response threatened 15% of the country’s GDP.
Nabiullina expressed gloom at a conference in St Petersburg, telling delegates that it is “clear to everyone that things will not be as they were”.
“External conditions have changed for a long time indeed, if not forever,” she said.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, warned Friday that it could take over a decade for the economy to return to the levels of 2021.
Despite reports that some business owners were refocusing their efforts on overseas operations, Putin tried to strike an optimistic tone and urged Russia’s major companies to keep working in the country.
“Invest here. It’s safer in your own house. Those who didn’t want to listen to this have lost millions abroad,” Putin said.
The 69-year-old Russian leader also addressed fears of a global food crisis resulting from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, claiming that Russia was capable of significantly increasing grain and fertilizer exports. The export of grains alone could reach 50 million tonnes, he said.
The blockade of its Black Sea ports has prevented Ukraine from sending supplies abroad, despite being one of the world’s top grain producers.
Fighting continued in Severodonetsk, a city in Ukraine’s east.
The key objective for Russian forces has been capturing Severodonetsk and its twin city, Lysychansk, for weeks.