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Resetting Russia-US relations impossible as long as sanctions are in effect — Medvedev

October 15, 2014, 10:07 UTC+3
By pulling back troops from the border with Ukraine, Russia did not intend to give a signal to Washington, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says
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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

© TASS/Ekaterina Shtukina

MOSCOW, October 15. /TASS/. Resetting Russian-US relations is impossible as long as sanctions against Russia are in effect, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with CNBC TV channel.

"It's absolutely impossible. Let's be clear: we did not come up with these sanctions. Our international partners did," Medvedev said. The prime minister noted that any suggestion of a "reset" is out of the question.

By pulling back troops from the border with Ukraine, Russia did not intend “to give a signal” to Washington, Medvedev noted. “This is not a signal to Washington. It is Russia’s domestic decision. This can be interpreted in any way, but this is not a signal,” the premier said. “Any decisions that Russia takes, including those regarding our armed forces, are within our authority, the authority fof the Russian president, and are not linked with the situation we witness there (in Ukraine), though we are certainly quite strongly concerned about it," Medvedev explained.

Medvedev believes that amid Western sanctions, other countries will take niches which European partners held previously on the Russian market.

“Eventually pragmatic considerations, the possibility to earn money will prevail, and these niches, which will become vacant if European producers quit, will be filled,” he said.  "I would like to note that we do not seek this, and the current situation can be reversed in theory," Medvedev noted.

On Ukraine's financial reliability

Ukraine is practically bankrupt, but Russia wants to see it a financially reliable state and to build relations with it, Medvedev said. “Ukraine is bankrupt. Ukraine is a state which is on the brink of financial collapse. It fails to service its obligations, it is not paying for gas and other supplies,” the prime minister noted.

“And we would like Ukraine to become a normal, modern and financially reliable state, with which we will be building relations,” Medvedev stressed.

Medvedev said that the unitary form of political regime is a dead end for Ukraine. He is certain, however, that the country should itself make the final decision. “As for the form of political arrangement, this is up to Ukrainians and their authorities. If they want to live in a unitary state, they may go right ahead. However, it seems to me that they have reached an impasse, because part of Ukraine said they cannot live like that. If they agree on a federation, that could facilitate Ukraine’s development. But this decision must come from within Ukraine — from the Ukrainian authorities and those people in the east of the country who have different views. This is the only possibility,” the Russian prime minister said.

On Flight MH17 crash in Ukraine's east

Medvedev said that Ukraine is fully responsible for the Malaysia Airlianes Boeing plane (Flight MH17) crash in the east of the country and should admit that it fails to control part of its territory. 

“Ukraine is fully responsible for all accidents in its skies. If it wasn’t in control of part of its territory at some point, the Ukrainian government should have mustered up the courage to say, 'Guys, we don’t control these areas, there are ongoing hostilities there, so please change your flight paths.' They didn’t do this, which is a serious violation of international aviation law,” Medvedev said.

On dependence on US dollar

The world should move away from its dependence on the US dollar, it needs a more balanced and diversified currency system, Medvedev said in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday.

"We have nothing against the dollar, but we believe that today's currency system should be more balanced," Medvedev said, calling for a greater number of reserve currencies, including euro, pound and yuan. He expressed hope that the Russian ruble could also become a reserve currency in the future. 

Medvedev said that Russia depended on both the dollar and US economy. "The US economy is now improving, but we have no proof that it will not go down again, and then everyone will suffer," he said. "We believe that we should move away from such dependency in the world's financial system."

The prime minister said that not only Russia, but also emerging economies would benefit from such a shift. "Global economy would benefit from it in general," he added.

On relations with Western leaders

Medvedev said that President Vladimir Putin and he himself maintained good relationships with Western leaders despite sanctions. “I’m on good terms with everyone. And I know that President Putin also has good relationships with everyone,” Medvedev said in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday.

The prime minister noted that issues of personal relationships should not be confused with economic and political issues. “We may call each other every other day or send each other cards on New Year’s,” Medvedev said.

“These are real economic issues, and so they present real political issues as well,” he said. "So far nothing dramatic has happened to our economy or the EU economy, to say nothing of the US economy, which doesn’t depend in any way on Russian economy," Medvedev noted.

On Russian-Chinese cooperation

Strengthening Russian-Chinese relations has a pragmatic and not a political nature, Medvedev said in an interview to CNBC TV channel on Wednesday.

“Our relations with the People’s Republic of China are long-term in nature, and don’t depend on the political situation, which, as you know, is far from simple right now,” the premier said.

“But we have been actively developing relations with China for nearly 25 years. China is our largest trading partner. Our trade currently stands at $90 billion. I’m sure that next year we’ll hit $100 billion, and we plan to reach $200 billion by 2020,” he added.

Medvedev also said, “Russia is both a European and an Asian country, which is why we trade with Europe and are willing to continue to do so — our trade with the European Union reached about $420 billion last year. And we also trade with Asia, where China is our largest partner.”

“So, once again, these are not political deals but an informed choice. At the same time, we need to take note of everything that happens around Russia. If some of our projects with Europe, America or others are put on ice (I’m not talking about the reasons behind this), we logically move these projects to other destinations.”

Medvedev in this regard rejected the theory that the current boosting of relations with China is to show the West (represented by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama) that Russia intends to reduce its dependence on both western goods and western capital. He said this supposition was “absolutely wrong.”

“We are pragmatic people, and I believe that everyone should be aware of this, including our partners such as President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, and any others. The idea is to trade lucratively and to secure profitable contracts,” the Russian prime minister said.

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