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ST. PETERSBURG, May 24, /ITAR-TASS/. The negative effect of the West’s economic sanctions against Russia is not as serious as Western nations hoped it would be, the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said while commenting on the results of a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
“That’s because Russia has made a serious breakthrough in economic development in the past 15-20 years,” Valentina Matviyenko explained to an Itar-Tass correspondent.
“Our footholds are not only the energy and raw materials sectors, but also the military industrial sector and the airspace and nuclear industries,” Matviyenko said. “We have footholds that will prevent destruction of Russia’s economy and social sphere. All reasonable politicians realize that.”
The United States and the European Union have suspended cooperation with Russia in some spheres over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian developments. Some Russian and Crimean officials and companies have been subjected to sanctions by Western nations, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Crimea’s incorporation by Russia.
Russia has dismissed the threats of further penalties, including economic ones, against it, saying the language of punitive measures is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western nations.
“The economic orientation of sanctions declared by Western nations has a political character,” Matviyenko said.
She blasted “Western countries’ pressure on international economic and financial institutions, recommendations to Western companies not to strike deals with Russian companies, stiff pressure on company leaders not to attend the SPIEF”.
“For big world powers this looks a bit too small and frankly speaking unseemly, all the more so as such sanctions will not produce the desired effect,” the official said.
In this connection, the upper house speaker said “many European companies formally fulfill the EU’s sanctions demands” but at that “in the normal course of business continue business contacts, keep expanding their presence because no one is interested in losing such an advantageous, big and attractive market”.
“It’s more like a political club being swung above Russia to change its attitude on a number of problems, to deprive it of an independent foreign policy,” Matviyenko said. “But [these efforts] won’t succeed.”
She stressed that Moscow “has no plans to impose sanctions in response”.
“We believe that international financial and economic institutions should speak out here as such sanctions are out of line with the principles and norms set by international free trade and market competition,” Matviyenko said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 television channel.
But “should the situation develop differently”, she said, Russia may impose tit-for-tat sanctions at a certain stage.
Instability embraced Ukraine after a coup occurred in the country in February. Russia's position is that the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev, brought to power by the coup, are illegitimate.
The Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum on March 16, in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and reunify with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deal March 18.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession was in line with the international law, the West and the de facto Kiev authorities refuse to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
After Crimea’s incorporation by Russia, massive protests against the coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities in Kiev erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories. Kiev has been conducting a punitive operation against pro-federalization activists.