Putin: West unlikely to remove sanctions against Russia anytime soon

Western governments are unlikely to remove sanctions against Russia anytime soon, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

Western powers, including the European Union and the United States, have imposed economic and other sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

Russia has responded with a series of retaliatory sanctions, including a ban on food imports, which has propped up the domestic agriculture industry.

Putin, speaking in an annual, nationally televised show during which he answers questions from the Russian public, said the Ukrainian government was to blame for failing to fulfil a ceasefire agreement for eastern Ukraine.

The agreement, reached by Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart last year, concerns Ukraine's two eastern-most regions, where a pro-Russian separatist rebellion continues to simmer after two years of fighting.

Western powers have expressed that they would remove sanctions against Russia upon complete fulfilment of the agreement.

The sanctions have weighed on Russia's economy, which is additionally struggling from weakened prices for its main export, oil.

Putin said in the call-in show that while Russia's gross domestic product is expected to decline by 0.3 per cent this year, "the trend is still positive."

The GDP is forecast to recover from contraction next year and grow 1.4 per cent, Putin said.

Russia's GDP contracted by 3.7 per cent last year to 80.8 trillion roubles, according to official statistics released earlier this month.

"Russia's international reserves have returned to their level at the beginning of 2014, 387 billion dollars," Putin said, adding that prices for consumer goods were stabilizing.

Relatively low prices for oil - Russia's main export - have caused a devaluation of the national currency, pushing up prices for imported goods. A Russian-imposed ban on Western food imports has also caused inflation of food prices.

Last update: Thu, 14/04/2016 - 18:50

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