Russia has lost about $50 billion as a result of foreign sanctions, but it has managed to offset the losses by various means, including import substitution, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"To hell with those sanctions," Putin told TASS in an interview for the project entitled "20 Questions with Vladimir Putin". "According to various estimates, we have lost 50 billion but we have earned the same amount."
He agreed that the losses were significant, but the introduction of sanctions "made us use our brains." Russia focused on import substitution, and started manufacturing "such items and technologies that we did not have before or we simply forgot about them and lost them."
"We recreated all of this," the head of state said. "And we are undoubtedly benefiting from it. It diversifies our economy. In fact, it helps tackle the prevailing priority."
Putin dismissed assumptions that Russia was "deliberately hurting [itself]" as pure nonsense. "Counter-sanctions helped boost the agroindustry. They unshackled our domestic market," he pointed out.
He recalled that agroindustrial production had skyrocketed and that Russia was now the world’s number one producer of wheat.
"Nobody would have ever thought that we would become such a major exporter. And we will raise this volume," Putin emphasized.
"We started to produce enough to meet our basic food needs: dairy, poultry, pork, and basic products. We need to work more on vegetables and start working on beef," he acknowledged.
Sanctions and counter-sanctions
The European Union’s economic sanctions against Russia have been targeting the banking sector, the defense industry and oil companies. Also, the EU introduced restrictions the export of weapons, military equipment, military and dual-purpose technologies, as well as high-tech equipment and oil production technologies. The restrictions do not apply to Russia’s gas industry.
Washington slapped sanctions on Moscow over the events in Ukraine and the reunification of Crimea with Russia in March 2014. They apply to a number of Russian banks and companies, and also to senior officials. The export of US goods, technologies and services to Crimea was prohibited. US investment on the peninsula is outlawed. The sanctions have been repeatedly expanded and prolonged.
In August 2014, Russia launched counter-measures in retaliation for the sanctions taken by the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway. Moscow prohibited the import of fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat products from these countries. At a certain point, Moscow had to struggle against the re-export of prohibited European products via Belarus and Serbia. Also, in May 2015, a ban was imposed on the import of peanuts and live poultry from the US. Furthermore, the import of live, chilled and frozen fish and crabs from the United States, the European Union, the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway has been restricted.
Episode 14 of this video interview is available at - https://putin.tass.ru/en.