Russian President Vladimir Putin downplayed the effectiveness of Western sanctions imposed on Moscow following the invasion of Ukraine, telling an economic forum that the attempts to cripple the Russian economy have led to the creation of a new eastern axis.
Putin addressed the forum in Vladivostok in eastern Russia Wednesday afternoon, saying that it is “impossible” for Western powers to isolate Moscow, emphasizing that his country has managed to overcome the economic “aggression” of the West.
“There's no other word for it,” Putin said.
Despite the concerted effort of NATO powers to weaken Russia’s economy, the president continued, the market has stabilized and appears to be prospering.
"Foreign currency exchanges and stock exchanges have stabilized. Inflation is going down, as I've said. The level of unemployment is at an all-time low: it's under 4%."
To overcome the challenges created by the sanctions, Russia is developing closer ties with powers outside of Europe and North America, Putin added, including in the Middle East – in particular Iran.
"As I said earlier, we are now, without a doubt, focused on developing our infrastructure in the East, and also developing the international North-South corridor and our Black Sea and Azov ports.”
“We will not forget about this. This will open new possibilities for Russian companies to access markets in Iran, India, countries of the Middle East and Africa. And, of course, also to supplies coming from these countries.
"Russia is a sovereign country. We will always protect our national interests while pursuing an independent policy course. And Russia appreciates the same qualities in those of its partners who have proved reliable and responsible over years of cooperation in trade, investment and other spheres.”
“I'm speaking about our colleagues from the Asia-Pacific region. The overwhelming majority of Asian-Pacific nations find the destructive logic of sanctions inacceptable, and business relations [with the region] are based on mutual benefit, cooperation and the addition of economic potentials for the benefit of citizens."