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MOSCOW, February 14. /TASS/. It would be right for the West and Russia to simultaneously lift their mutual sanctions, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Euronews TV channel on Sunday.
Once again, the Russian prime minister noted that "we are not the ones who came up with these sanctions, so it is not our business to lift them."
"They will have to have the courage to say, guys, we’ll just scrap all this from day X, and could you please reciprocate by lifting your response measures as well. That would be the right approach," he stressed, adding sanctions "never brought them anything but lost profits." "What is happening now is no different," he said.
He admitted that the sanctions have had certain effect on the Russian economy, with companies and banks losing Western financing. But these restrictions, in his words, have made it possible to launch the process of economic revival. "Perhaps one of the advantages of these sanctions and our response measures is that we started concentrating harder on domestic agriculture, so, to a large extent, we are now satisfying our demand for food, while wheat, for example, is now exported in large quantities. In this sense, the sanctions have helped."
The biggest damage to the Russian economy, in his words, was done by the falling oil prices. "Indeed, we aren’t in the best economic situation right now, with the dramatic fall in oil prices probably contributing the most to the overall state of the economy, to the decline in revenues," he said, adding that this situation is making the structure of Russia’s revenues to change. "There is also a positive effect. The economy is healing, it is becoming less dependent on oil, and we have an opportunity to develop our own industry and agriculture," Medvedev said.
The prime minister admitted that slower economic growth "could not but affect the incomes and the general standing of our people with their jobs and their real incomes." At the same time, he reminded that in this situation the government undertook not to cut social spending in order to prevent tension in society.
"Moreover, we even indexed pensions last year, and this year, too, maybe not completely, but we did. We will try to continue doing this in the future," he said.
"We will try to do everything towards Russian citizens’ social wellbeing, to keep them as comfortable as possible under these conditions," Medvedev pledged. "It is truly a priority for the Government.".
The West’s decision to freeze relations with Russia was senseless and Moscow is ready to resume dialogue on equal basis, the first step however is up to the West, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.
He voiced criticism over Western countries’ decision to scale down cooperation with Russia. "The initial decision to cease cooperation in a most difficult international situation, where we all need each other, was meaningless to begin with," he said. "It becomes necessary to backtrack after some time."
"As soon as something happens in the global agenda with Russia’s participation, NATO immediately starts blowing smoke, pouting, and says, that’s it, we’re done, we’re not talking with you anymore, we’re suspending our relations," the Russian prime minister noted. "Then after some time, someone whispers in our ear that they actually want to revive relations, so could we start cooperating on one issue or another?"
"The same applies to relations with the United States and the European Union," he noted. "We are ready for this [to resume relations], we want sound, advanced relations with both of them."
"These continuing tensions aren’t doing us any good. But if we are told that they no longer want us around, of course, the first steps towards reconciliation should be taken by those who initiated the alienation. As for us, we are ready to discuss any issues," he said.
At the same time, the Russian prime minister stressed that Russia insisted on equal dialogue. "If something is to be reset, it should be done on a fundamentally different basis. What kind of basis? Equitable, fair, solid basis for relations, considering that Russia is not the only nation that needs this - the European Union and the United States need it as well," he said.