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Western sanctions cost Russia $160 bn

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Western sanctions cost Russia $160 bn
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St. Petersburg: Russian President Vladimir Putin said here on Monday that Western sanctions targeted at Russia had cost his country an estimated $160 billion.

Despite the fall in global oil prices from $100 to $50 per barrel and the efforts of Russia's European "quasi- partners" to restrict the availability of financial services for Russian banks, Russian firms were nevertheless well placed to repay outstanding debts, said Putin at a meeting of legislators here in the country's northern capital.

"Someone was seemingly counting on a collapse," Putin said of external attempts to weaken his country. "But no collapse has happened. In fact, the Russian economy has overcome these artificial barriers relatively easily," Xinhua quoted the Russian president as saying.

Putin also admitted that internal as well as external factors had contributed to the country's recent economic downturn, citing in particular the effect of disproportionate wage rises relative to productivity gains.

Falling commodity prices had also affected the Russian ruble as the Russian Central Bank was forced to move to a floating exchange rate. "This did indeed lead to a devaluation of our currency, but it was the only economically feasible way to deal with the situation," Putin added.

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