President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he was pleased that some foreign companies have left Russia as local companies could take their place, and warned the West that Moscow would still find ways to acquire advanced technology and luxury goods.
Putin called the invasion of Ukraine as a turning point in Russian history: a Moscow revolt against the United States, which he says has humiliated Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Ukraine says it is fighting for its survival.
In addition to the death and horror of war, the conflict and the West’s attempt to isolate Russia as punishment have held back global economic growth and triggered a wave of inflation as the prices of wheat, cooking oil, fertilizers and energy are skyrocketing.
After the war, a host of large foreign investors – from BP to McDonald’s Corp – exited just as the Russian economy faces its worst contraction since the years following the turmoil of the Soviet collapse.
“Sometimes, when you watch those who leave – thank God, perhaps? We will occupy their niches: our business, our production – it has already grown and will be safe on the ground prepared by our partners,” Putin said.
Speaking in video link with the leaders of the former Soviet states, Putin joked that luxuries like the bandit-favored Mercedes in the chaos of post-Soviet Russia would still be available, although he admitted they could be a little more expensive.
“It will be a little more expensive for them, but these are people who have already driven the Mercedes 600 and will do it again. I can assure you that they will bring them from anywhere, from any country.”
Putin said Russia still needs access to the advanced technologies of developed economies.
“We’re not going to isolate ourselves from this – they want to squeeze us out a little bit, but in the modern world this is just unrealistic, impossible.”
He did not explain how Russia would find a way to maintain access to Western components and software.
Putin promised Western attempts to isolate Russia would fail, saying developed economies were grappling with an inflationary spiral, broken supply chains and a food crisis just as the center of global economic power had shifted to Asia.
Western sanctions have fueled Russian inflation as supply chains growl, even as Putin said the country is coping well and that Russia is moving away from the West in favor of China, India and other powers.
“Representatives of our companies obviously face problems, especially in the field of supply chains and transport. However, everything can be regulated, everything can be built in a new way,” Putin said.
“Not without losses at a certain stage, but it helps us in a sense to become stronger. In any case, we are certainly acquiring new skills, we are starting to focus our economic, financial and administrative resources on turning areas.
Russia’s central bank cut its key interest rate to 11% on Thursday and said it has room for further cuts this year as inflation slows from over 20-year highs and the economy heads for a contraction. .
The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 killed thousands of people, displaced millions more people and raised fears of the most serious confrontation between Russia and the United States since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
Putin says the US was using Ukraine to threaten Russia through NATO enlargement and Moscow had to defend itself from persecution of Russian-speaking people.
Ukraine and its Western allies reject them as unfounded pretexts to invade a sovereign country.