Putin slams ‘reckless, insane’ sanctions and denies stoking inflation

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia’s offensive in Ukraine had no influence on global economic difficulties, including energy price rises, instead blaming the West.

“We all hear about a so-called ‘Putin inflation’ (…) Our actions to liberate the Donbas have nothing to do with that,” he said during the plenary session of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

“It is the result of the systemic errors of the US administration and European bureaucracy (…) For them, our operation is a lifeline that allows them to blame everything on us,” the Russian president continued, criticising the “erroneous economic policy” of Western countries.

“They have printed, distributed money and raided all the goods in third country markets for this money,” he continued.

President Putin told Russia’s showpiece investment conference on Friday that the country’s economy will overcome sanctions that he called “reckless and insane”.

Putin began his address to the forum with a lengthy denunciation of countries that he contends want to weaken Russia.

The United States and European countries are facing rising inflation – up to 11% in the UK – driven in particular by rising fuel prices. In Russia, fuel prices are up 16.7% year-on-year.

Gas prices continued to soar on Friday, galvanised by the Russian giant Gazprom, which is reducing its deliveries to Europe against the backdrop of the Russian offensive in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Moscow.

In the same speech, Putin once again denounced the “crazy and senseless” sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, saying that Europeans suffer more than Moscow.

The Russian President also repeated that his country and its army were not preventing Ukraine from exporting its grain abroad, assuring that Kyiv had many options and that “it was not us who mined the Black Sea ports”.

Ukraine mined its coastline to protect itself from a military landing by Russia, which attacked it on 24 February.

The UN has been negotiating for several weeks with Moscow, Kyiv and Ankara, the military guarantor of the use of the Black Sea for civilian ships, an agreement that would allow millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain blocked from leaving the country safely.

If an agreement is reached, it would lower food prices and ease fears of a global food crisis.

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