Russian President Vladimir Putin used a gathering of African politicians in Moscow to slam the West for trying to cripple his country with sanctions.
Mr Putin, recently indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in neighbouring Ukraine, was speaking at a summit of Russian and African parliaments where he said the West's efforts had failed.
He avoided the ICC issue in the speech but lampooned the West for what he said was targeting his country.
Since invading Ukraine last year in February, Russia has faced nine sets of sanctions imposed by the European Union as well as the US. But the Russian economy, he argued, has only experienced a slight contraction of its gross domestic product in 2022.
Putin praises Russia’s economy
Putin hailed the “resilience” of his country’s economy but insisted there was no room for complacency.
"You know the collective West took systemic efforts to ruin our economy. It did not work that way and it will not work that way," the Russian leader said on Monday at the meeting hosted by the Russian Lower Chamber of Legislators known as ‘Duma’. It was a series of preparatory gatherings ahead of the second Russia-Africa Summit due in St Petersburg in July this year.
The apparent resilience of the Russian economy is primarily due to the surge in oil and gas prices in 2022, which compensated for the drop in the volume of exports – a reduction of around 25 percent for gas.
“Our businesses and economy are facing plenty of tasks, including import substitution, but already in a rather broad sense. We are dealing with this every day. We now have to produce on our own what could have been bought,” Putin said.
“There are challenges, but there are also huge economic opportunities.” he added.
He further said the unemployment rate in Russia dropped to a record low of 3.6 percent.
Meanwhile, Putin said Russia had written off debts of African nations amounting to more than $20 billion.
“The mutual trade turnover is growing from year to year, which reached almost $18 billion as of the last year-end. The more vigorous transition to national currencies in financial settlements as well as the establishment of new transport and logistics chains will facilitate the development of counter-trade turnovers.”