Russia’s economy might have taken a battering since its invasion of Ukraine but all is going to plan, President Vladimir Putin declared, arguing his country has made a permanent break with the West.
Speaking to business leaders at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on Friday, the Russian leader said the war raging across the border was proof “the ugly neo-colonial world system has ceased to exist and the multipolar world order is being strengthened.”
According to Putin, there is a plan to help Russia’s “long-term sovereign development” and become one of the world’s leading economies. “The strategy chosen by both the state and Russian business has worked,” he added.
The country has long lagged behind Western nations in terms of GDP per capita and key developmental indicators, with sanctions imposed on Moscow by the EU and U.S. hitting key sectors such as finance, technology and defense.
Just a day before, speaking at the same forum, the governor of Russia’s central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, warned the country could find itself reverting to a planned economic system of the kind employed by the Soviet Union. According to her, a “temptation to manage economic restructuring” in the Kremlin could lead to suppression of the market.
Putin’s appearance at the annual conference came amid “unprecedented” security controls, with mobile internet reportedly unusable as a result of electronic warfare measures deployed in the wake of alleged Ukrainian drone attacks deep inside Russia. In a speech lasting for more than an hour, he accused those defending the neighboring country of being “Hitler’s descendants.”
“Putin wants to show the West that he is staying the course,” said Jade McGlynn, an expert on Russian politics at King’s College London. “He is doubling down so the West might reassess how far it wants to go.”
The EU is expected to unveil its 11th package of sanctions against Russia since the start of the war in the coming weeks, with drafts seen by POLITICO focusing on tightening loopholes that have allowed Moscow to bring in goods and export fossil fuels in contravention of restrictions.