Putin condemns ‘mad and thoughtless’ Western sanctions

The sanctions imposed by the West on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine are “mad and thoughtless”, President Vladimir Putin has said.

Speaking at a forum in St Petersburg, he said “the economic blitzkrieg against Russia had no chance of succeeding from the very beginning”.

He said the restrictions were “more harmful” to those who imposed them. He gave no evidence to back up this claim.

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, drawing a tough response from the West.

On Friday, fierce fighting continued in Ukraine’s eastern city of Severodonetsk.

Capturing Severodonetsk – and its twin city of Lysychansk – has for weeks been the key target for Russian troops.

In separate developments on Friday:

Speaking at the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum, President Putin said the EU could lose more than $400bn (£326bn) because of its sanctions against Russia.

He said inflation was increasing across the 27-member bloc and the real interests of people in Europe were being sidelined.

He did not give any basis for his assertions.

Referring to fears of a global food crisis triggered by the continuing war in Ukraine, Mr Putin claimed that Russia was capable of significantly increasing its exports of grain and fertilisers. Grain exports alone could rise to some 50 million tonnes, he said.

Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers along with Russia, but has been unable to send supplies abroad because of a blockade of its Black Sea ports.

And Mr Putin also implored Russia’s major businesses to keep working in the country, amid reports that an increasing number of business owners were refocusing their efforts on overseas operations.

“Invest here. It’s safer in your own house. Those who didn’t want to listen to this have lost millions abroad,” Mr Putin said.

bbc.com