Monday, March 4, 2024

Putin says west ‘shooing itself in foot’ with sanctions

Western countries are damaging their own economies when they limit Moscow's ability to use their currencies through numerous sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on Thursday.

According to Putin, the use of the dollar and euro in servicing Russian exports decreased from 87% in 2021 to 24% as of September 2023 amid Western restrictions. At the same time, the share of the Russian ruble and the Chinese yuan reached 40% and 33%, respectively.

“They [the West] shot themselves in the foot. Is this bad for us? Not really. The more we use our national currency, the better. This increases our sovereignty,” the president insisted, adding “We are not giving up [the dollar and the euro], they just started causing problems for us with settlements in foreign currencies.”

Speaking about the ruble, the president pointed out that the exchange rate is floating and depends on economic factors, such as prices for export goods and growing demand within the country. Most of the factors affecting the currency are manageable, according to Putin, who insisted that the situation “is normalizing”.

The Russian economy has shown strength and stability in the face of outside pressure, with GDP expected to reach 3.5% this year, Putin stated.

According to Putin, who is holding his annual press conference in Moscow, the economy has recovered from last year’s decline and is moving forward.

There are challenges still facing the Russian economy, according to the president, with inflation expected to accelerate to 8% by the end of the year.

“But the central bank and the government are taking measures to return it to target levels,” Putin continued.

The president noted the confident growth of industrial production, at 3.6%, saying, “What is particularly pleasing is that the manufacturing industry is growing.”

According to Putin, Russia’s external public debt has decreased from $46 billion to $32 billion. Private companies are also paying off their debts on time, he added.

The Russian leader also noted that unemployment in Russia dropped to a historic low of 2.9%. “This has never happened in the history of Russia. This a very good indicator of the state of the economy.”

Real wages in Russia will continue to grow to the end of 2023, increasing approximately 8%, while the growth of real incomes of the population will be at around 5% by the end of the year, according to Putin.

The president also spoke about the increase in the minimum wage in Russia from the beginning of 2024.

“When I talked about increasing real incomes, I must mention, of course, that from January 1, we will have the minimum wage increased by 18%,” he stated, noting that such indexations don’t happen often enough.

The Russian president is hosting his annual press conference on live TV, during which both journalists and the general public can ask him questions. The two-in-one event, called ‘Results of the Year’, combines Putin’s annual press conference and his Q&A session with the people, which are usually held separately.

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