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15 Sep, 2008 14:32

Punishing Russia is senseless – Medvedev

Russia doesn't want to be isolated or to take part in a new arms race, but it's also not afraid of any sanctions that Western countries may impose following the war in South Ossetia, president Medvedev said.

“We do not need isolation or an arms race – this is a dead-end, the road to nowhere. We will not let ourselves be worn out like the Soviet Union. However, of course we will take all the necessary measures to strengthen our defence capacity,” Medvedev said.
He added that “if anyone tries to enforce sanctions, we realise that losses will bear a symmetrical nature.”

Some fifty senior government officials and leaders from the business community attended the meeting in Moscow.

Discussing Russia’s further economic development, the President said the situation in the world has changed after the recent hostilities in South Ossetia and this couldn’t help but influence business in a range of ways.

“The Tbilisi regime unleashed a real war against the Ossetian people. Only thanks to the actions taken by Russia, was the war stopped. But before that, it managed to hurt Russians, Ossetians, Georgians – everyone. Thousands of people were killed or left homeless,” Medvedev said.  

He added: “Russia not only could, but was obliged, to stop that bloodshed and defend its citizens and peacekeepers. As the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I could not have issued any other order.”

Medvedev has also called on large Russian businesses to create a fund that would help South Ossetia get back on its feet after Georgian aggression in August.

The republics are also a source of serious business potential.

“The decision has been made about active participation in various economic agreements, which will be signed by the president very soon,” Viktor Vekselberg, the President of Renova Group of Companies said.

However, the main focus of the meeting was not Russia’s foreign policy, but the economic development of the country.  

“Founding an international financial centre in Moscow has become a more pressing issue,” he said.

The President said that another strategic priority is bolstering small business.

“This concerns changes in the law and the way work is organised. Domestic modernisation remains our key focus. In light of the recent hostilities in Georgia we need to prepare a plan to additionally help our small businesses and all those working in the key sectors of Russia's economy,” he said.

Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization also made it on to the agenda. And while the business elite still want in, they also want reasonable terms.

“Russia still wants to be in the WTO – and the strategic importance of membership is very high. But at the same time the accession has to be on reasonable, non-discriminative conditions,” said Aleksey Mordashev, the Chairman of the Board of Severstal.