SOCHI, January 11. Western sanctions, which came as a result of Crimea’s reunification with Russia, was a “silly and damaging decision,” but the sanctions have a positive effect for Russia as well, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with German daily Bild. “You know, the Russians feel clearly with their hearts and minds what is going on at the moment,” Putin said. “Napoleon once said that justice is the image of God upon the Earth. The reunification of Crimea with Russia was a just decision.” The president added that the reaction of the Western partners on the reunification was “wrong and rather aimed to restrain the abilities of Russia’s further growth instead of Ukraine’s support.” “It seems to me that it should have never been done and that is where the grand mistake rests as, on the contrary, we must make use of mutual possibilities for the further growth, for mutual solution of problems, which we are facing,” Putin said adding that the Western choice of imposing sanctions against Russia was “a silly and damaging decision.” Crimea and Sevastopol The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean peninsula, where most residents are Russians, signed reunification deals with Russia on March 18, 2014 after a referendum two days earlier in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when it was gifted to Ukraine by Soviet Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev. The Russian leader admitted that the sanctions bore a negative impact on the Russian economy, particularly in the sphere of restrictions for the country and its companies to work on foreign financial markets. “Speaking about the greatest damage, inflicted by the current situation, is, first of all, the damage to our economy and it is brought by the decline in prices for our traditional export goods,” Putin said speaking about the drop of crude prices over the last year and a half. However, according to the president, “as strange as it may seem, some tendencies of positive nature also emerged” for Russia under the current difficulties. “When the crude prices are high it is very hard for us to refrain from spending oil profits on accrued expenses,” he said. “In my opinion, our oil and gas deficit hit a very dangerous level. We are now forced to lower it. This is very invigorating.” According to Putin, “it is very difficult to abstain from covering the accrued expenses by means of profits from natural gas and oil.” “When the profit from [oil and gas sales] is high we see a discourage of the domestic development, particularly in the high technology spheres,” Putin said adding that the decrease in spending of oil and gas profits plays a revitalizing role for the country’s economy.