Attendees gather near a screen showing Russian President Vladimir Putin delivering a speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 17, 2022.
Anton Vaganov | Reuters
The White House has hit back at Russian President Vladimir Putin after he repeatedly criticized the United States and the Western world in a high-profile speech.
Putin claimed that international sanctions imposed on Russia following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine were a “danger” to the world. He added that the United States was ready to sacrifice Europe, which is facing a cost of living crisis as energy prices soar as the war continues, in order to preserve what he called his world “dictatorship”.
Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin slammed the Western collective, pointing the finger at the United States to blame it for the economic pain the sanctions on Russia are causing Europe and beyond. beyond as global energy and food prices soar.
Washington has defended its stance on Russia, a country widely condemned by the West for its continued war on Ukraine, with a State Department spokesperson telling CNBC in email comments that “sanctions and export controls are working, and President Putin is desperate to convince the world otherwise.”
“Despite President Putin’s comments at the Eastern Economic Forum, Russia is paying a heavy price for its full-scale war against Ukraine, which continues to incur mounting costs – tens of thousands of Russian soldiers killed, 14 million Ukrainian citizens forced to flee their homes, historic cities reduced to rubble – all because Putin is determined to conquer another country,” they added.
According to the State Department spokesperson, Russian policymakers themselves, including its finance minister, have acknowledged that the sanctions have posed serious problems for the country. “The Russian economy is vulnerable to the global economic shutdown and will surely suffer a sustained decline in economic activity. Putin’s war is set to wipe out much of Russia’s economic gains over the past 15 years.”
The Russian government is being forced to spend more and more to support its economy, the spokesperson noted, adding that Russian official sources put the country’s budget deficit at more than $15 billion in July alone.
Putin has sought to soften the bite of the sanctions by turning to India and China to sell his oil. Reuters reported in August that Russia’s economy ministry expects higher oil export volumes, coupled with higher gas prices, to lift Russia’s revenue from energy exports to $337.5 billion this year, a 38% increase from to 2021.
On Wednesday, Putin said Russia would run a budget surplus this year, but acknowledged growth was being hit and gross domestic product would fall “by about 2% or a bit more.”
Russia’s central bank has gloomier expectations for the economy heading into winter, predicting a growing contraction (by 7%) in the third quarter, after a 4.3% drop in the second quarter, Reuters said. last month citing a central bank report. The bank expects the economy to begin to recover in the second half of 2023. Annual inflation stood at 15.1% in July, above the EU rate of 9.8% in the same month.