Putin says sanctions on Russia will ‘boomerang’ on the West

Facing sanctions and economic boycott over the Ukraine crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday hit back at the West, saying sanctions will only boomerang on them as he vowed to respect the outcome of Kiev’s presidential election.

61-year-old Putin warned that Ukraine has descended into a full-scale civil war and blamed the US of choreographing a ‘coup’ in February against a Moscow-backed leader who upset the West by breaking a closer alliance with Europe and seeking Russia’s economic help instead. In a key-note address to foreign and Russian businessmen at the annual Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia’s answer to the Davos World Economic Forum, Putin said using sanctions as a tool can have a boomerang effect.

‘In the modern, interconnected world, economic sanctions as an instrument of political pressure can have a boomerang effect, and in the end they have an impact on the businesses and economies of the countries that initiated them,’ he said, two days after inking a USD 400 billion gas deal with China.
Putin also underlined that these sanctions were ‘illegal’ as they did not have the approval of the UN Security Council. He said the West were planning to impose second and third phase of sanctions on Russia.

The US and EU have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia, including visa bans and asset freezes, over its annexation of Crimea - an autonomous peninsula within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority - in March and alleged support for pro-Russian rebels who have seized control of parts of eastern Ukraine.
Putin said he believed Washington was pushing for sanctions on Russia to try to gain a competitive edge in Europe. ‘By insisting on the use of sanctions against Russia, I suspect that our American friends -- maybe, they are subtle -- want to obtain certain advantages in their commercial and economies ties with Europe.

‘For now this is not having a negative systemic effect on our economy and I hope that this will not take place,’ Putin said. After initially appearing non-committal over joining hands with the new government in Ukraine after Sunday’s polls, Putin later said he will work with the elected authorities.

He said he would ‘respect the choice of Ukrainian people’.

‘We are today working with those people who control the government and after the election we will of course work with the newly elected authorities,’ he said. This year’s forum was boycotted by some top executives from major firms like Deutsche Bank, Siemens, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo and Morgan Stanley, media reports said. Addressing the annual conference meant to showcase Russia as a place to do business as it faces boycott this year, Putin outlined his plans for a new Eurasian Union comprising former Soviet states Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. He said as the West seeks to find alternatives to Russian gas and increase sanctions, Russia is ‘going to focus on Eurasian investment’ from now on, as he announced Moscow will ink a deal on May 29 for the formation of the Eurasian Union.

Speaking at the summit, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said if the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan sign the agreement it will be ratified this year, ‘and the new integration stage will start on January 1, 2015’.

‘Our chief goal is to build the Eurasian Economic Union not only with common economic space with the EU but also more closely entwined into the fabric of the Asia Pacific,’ Shuvalov said.
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