Participants gather near a screen showing Russian President Vladimir Putin delivering a speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SIEF) in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 17, 2022.
Anton Vaganov | Reuters
The White House hit back at Russian President Vladimir Putin after he repeatedly criticized the United States and the Western world in a wide-ranging speech.
Putin said international sanctions imposed on Russia after its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine pose a “danger” to the world. He added that the US is willing to sacrifice Europe, which is experiencing a cost-of-living crisis as energy prices rise, while the war continues. to maintain what he called a global “dictatorship”.
Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin blasted the collective West, singling out the United States, blaming it for the economic pain that sanctions against Russia are causing in Europe and beyond as global energy and food prices soar.
Washington defended its stance on Russia, a country widely condemned by the West for its continued war with Ukraine, with a State Department spokesman telling CNBC in emailed comments that “sanctions and export controls are working and President Putin is desperately trying to convince the world the opposite.”
“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 result in rising costs — tens of thousands of Russian soldiers killed, 14 million Ukrainian citizens forced to flee their homes, historic cities , broken into ruins – all because Putin is determined to conquer another country,” they added.
According to the press secretary of the State Department, Russian politicians themselves – including its finance minister – have admitted that the sanctions have caused serious problems for the country. “The Russian economy is vulnerable to disconnection from the global economy and will undoubtedly suffer from a sustained decline in economic activity. Putin’s war is predicted to wipe out much of Russia’s economic gains over the past 15 years.”
The Russian government is forced to spend more and more to support its economy, the spokesman noted, adding that only in July, official Russian sources estimate the country’s budget deficit to be more than $15 billion.
Putin has sought to soften the sting of sanctions by turning to India and China to sell their oil. Reuters reported in August that the Russian Ministry of Economy is waiting increased oil exports combined with rising gas prices will boost Russia’s energy export revenues to $337.5 billion this year, up 38% from 2021.
Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would run a budget surplus this year, but admitted that growth had suffered and gross domestic product would fall “by about 2% or a little more”.
Russia’s central bank has a more gloomy outlook for the economy as winter approaches, forecasting a deepening contraction (7%) in the third quarter after a 4.3% drop in the second quarter, Reuters reported last month, citing a central bank report. The bank expects the economy to start recovering in the second half of 2023. In July, annual inflation amounted to 15.1%, higher than the EU’s 9.8% in the same month.