Russia reacts to sanctions with greater openness - Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras (R), (RIA Novosti /
Michael Klimentyev)
Russia has responded to Western sanctions with greater economic freedom and openness, said President Vladimir Putin. The country’s economy hasn’t seen any deep crisis; on the contrary, it’s confidently getting through all the hardships, he added.

"We respond to foreign restrictions not by shutting the gateway to our economy, but with greater freedom and openness. This is not a fine catch phrase, but the content of our real policy, of the work that we have been conducting for the sake of creating conditions for doing business and identifying new partners and new markets and participating in major integration projects," Putin said at the St Petersburg Economic Forum on Friday.

The European Union extended economic sanctions against Crimea until 2016 on Friday, saying it still doesn't recognize its reunification with Russia. They include a ban on imports from Crimea to the EU, investment and tourism services as well as the export of a number of products and technology to companies located in the region.

READ MORE: EU prolongs economic sanctions against Crimea till June 2016

The measures to support the country’s economy have worked out pretty well: the authorities have retained control over inflation, which is already decreasing. The volume of Russia’s non-energy exports increased 17.5 percent in the first quarter.

"Yet at the end of last year they forecast a deep economic crisis. This has not happened. We have stabilized the situation, put out the negative vibrations of the environment and are confidently passing through the period of difficulties," Putin said adding that it became possible primarily due to the fact that the Russian economy had gained an adequate supply of internal strength.

READ MORE: Thanks to sanctions Russia turned to Asia – Medvedev

Although the Western sanctions have complicated economic relations between Russia and the EU, active cooperation with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region doesn’t mean a slowdown in activities involving traditional Western partners, Putin added.

"I'd like to emphasize that active interaction with the new global growth centers does not at all mean that we pay less attention to the dialogue with our traditional Western partners," he said.

The strengthening of partnership with the countries of the Asia-Pacific is part of the work on the development of Russia’s Far East, he said adding that Russia will host the first East Economic Forum in Vladivostok this autumn and will present proposals for foreign investors at it.

"We are ready to work with anyone who is willing to cooperate on the basis of equality and mutual respect," Putin concluded.