President Vladimir Putin says anti-Moscow sanctions imposed by the West over Russia’s military operation in Ukraine have backfired and that Western countries have been hit worse by the bans.
Western governments "guided by short-sighted, inflated political ambitions and by Russophobia, deal a much harder blow to their own national interests, their own economies and the well-being of their own citizens," Putin told a government meeting in televised remarks on Thursday.
Underlining the sharp rise of inflation in Europe, which is close to 20 percent in some countries, the Russian leader said, “It is obvious that... the continuation of the obsession with sanctions will inevitably lead to the most difficult consequences for the European Union, for its citizens.”
Putin insisted that his country has been resilient in the face of Western sanctions, saying, "Russia is confidently managing in the face of external challenges."
Putin also welcomed the "gradual" slowdown in Russia's inflation after it surged to 16.7 percent year-on-year in March, as well as the recovery of the ruble, which is currently at its strongest since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis.
Supported by strict capital controls and energy exports, the ruble has recently staged a spectacular bouncing back.
Putin announced the military operation in neighboring Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
At the time, the Russian president said one of the goals of the offensive was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
The operation, however, drew unprecedented sanctions from the US and its European allies. The US and its allies have also stepped up military support for Ukraine, sending an array of sophisticated weapons meant to hold off Russia's rapid advances.
Moscow has already warned that such a flow of weapons to Kiev will prolong Russia's operation.