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MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin feel so surprise over the attempts in the US Senate to tighten sanctions against Russia for no apparent reason.
The country’s entire history is evidence it has had to live under sanctions starting from the moment it began to find its feet and when its partners began to regard it as a major competitor, Putin said during his annual question-and-answer call-in on Thursday.
"We do know that a bill on tightening sanctions has emerged in the US Senate again," Putin said. "Incidentally, why? Nothing extraordinary is happening. Why has the theme of sanctions been brought up again for no reason?"
"This is evidence of the ongoing internal political struggle in the United States," Putin said. "Nevertheless this is happening for no reason at all, I believe. Had there been no Crimean issue or other problems, they would’ve thought up something else for containing Russia."
Putin believes the tightening of anti-Russian sanctions is a side effect of the ongoing political struggle in the United States.
"Whatever the case, I believe this is utterly groundless," he stated.
Vladimir Putin pointed to benefits of anti-Russian sanctions, nation must use intellect, resources, talents. He noted that sanctions are a double-edged weapon, which harms everyone. "However, there are advantages as well, strange as it may seem," the president noted. "The advantages are that we had to use intellect, talents, concentrate resources in the key areas instead of just using petro-and-gas dollars."
"We have had a real production growth in important, complex industries," Putin noted. "We have restored competence in radio electronics to a large extent, in aircraft construction, in rocket-building industry. Progress has been made in the pharmaceutical industry and in the heavy engineering industry, let alone agriculture where a growth rate of about 30% has been achieved."
"Russia has become number one, the leader in grain and wheat exports. So you can see the results," the Russian leader said. "We have reduced imports. Our own production of pork and poultry meat covers practically all our needs.".
Moscow will make decisions concerning its retaliatory sanctions taking into consideration relations with other countries, Putin said.
"Our government has extended sanctions until December 31," he said. "We will see how our relations develop with the countries who imposed sanctions on us. As for endless expansion of sanctions, if our counterparts lift their economic sanctions, then we will do the same, as otherwise we will face issues within the World Trade Organization," Putin pointed out.
Global environment and lower oil and gas prices have affected Russia’s economy more than sanctions, the president said.
"Have the sanctions affected us? Yes," the president said. "Drastically or not? I don’t think so."
"We were more affected by the global environment and slumping prices on our traditional products - oil and gas, metals industry and chemistry," Putin said. "What do our partners think? The US State Department estimates that these sanctions have sparked a 1% drop in GDP for our economy and the Europeans say this is slightly more," Putin said. "The United Nations says we lost some $50 billion or $52 billion and those countries that introduced sanctions lost $100 billion. So, this was a double-edged sword, it harms everyone."