Russia’s ability to withstand Western sanctions has surprised the US and its allies, according to Andrey Belousov, Russia’s first deputy prime minister. Despite facing unprecedented economic pressure, Russia has demonstrated its economic sovereignty and its ability to pursue an independent policy and protect its national interests. Belousov made these remarks at the ‘Russia’ exhibition held in Moscow, where he highlighted how the West was shocked by Russia’s resilience in the face of sanctions. He also noted that Russia had been warned of a catastrophe similar to the economic crisis it experienced in the 1990s.
In the 1990s, Russia underwent rapid market reforms after the collapse of the Soviet Union, resulting in hyperinflation and a technical default on its obligations in 1998. This crisis is still considered the worst economic downturn in modern Russian history. However, despite the challenges faced by the country, Russia has managed to overcome the current sanctions pressure.
The sanctions were imposed by the US and its allies after Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. These sanctions targeted various sectors of the Russian economy, including finance, aviation, and the space industry. As a result, several Russian banks were cut off from the international banking system, and many foreign companies announced their withdrawal from the Russian market.
Despite these restrictions, Russia’s GDP only contracted by 2.1% last year. President Vladimir Putin has announced that the country has already recovered from this downturn as of October this year. The Kremlin has projected a GDP growth rate of 2.8% for 2023, despite the ongoing economic pressure.
The international community has also recognized Russia’s economic rebound. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its forecast, expecting Russia’s GDP to grow by 2.2% in 2023, up from its previous projections of 0.7% in April and 1.5% in July.
Belousov believes that Russia has now entered a phase of strengthening its sovereignty. He emphasized that economic sovereignty does not mean isolation but rather the ability to pursue a country’s own national agenda and goals in a changing world. He highlighted the importance of a well-established international partnership system, a strong national education and science system, modern infrastructure, effective government institutions, low inflation and budget deficit, and stable access to energy, food, and raw materials as key factors contributing to economic sovereignty.
Russia’s ability to withstand the western sanctions has shown its economic strength and its determination to defend its national interests. Despite the challenges faced, the country has managed to recover from the downturn caused by the sanctions and achieve a stable economic growth. This resilience has surprised the US and its allies, who expected Russia to suffer severe economic consequences. However, Russia’s ability to pursue an independent policy and protect its national interests demonstrates its economic sovereignty on the global stage.