Vladimir Putin suggested Thursday that Russia’s economic isolation is actually good for the nation, adding that it’s on track to become one of the world’s most prominent growth centers despite war dragging on in Ukraine.
At a business forum in Moscow, he said the Russian economy is expected to grow 3.5% this year, after shrinking by 2.1% in 2022.
“Today, GDP is already higher than it was before the Western sanctions attack,” Putin said, according to Reuters.
The Russian president also emphasized the economy’s resilience in the face of Western sanctions, which have severed Moscow from a significant portion of global finance and trade.
Though some economists say Russia has been crippled by the West’s restrictions, Putin said Russia is on its way to becoming a growth hub.
“The world has entered an era of radical changes and serious tests not only for specific companies and sectors, but also for whole countries and regions of the world,” he said. “Only a strong, stable, and, I stress, sovereign country will be able to pass this phase successfully, to become one of the growth centers of the new global economy.”
Russia’s budget deficit is also shrinking, while the West has seen its economies deteriorate, Putin added.
“It has been resting on its laurels, for so long becoming accustomed to monopolies and exclusivity, to the lack of real alternatives, to the habit of changing nothing, that it is becoming archaic,” he said.
Experts say though that the recent boost seen in Russia’s economy is largely attributed to the country’s increased defense spending, with Putin recently signing in a record-high military budget for 2024.
Meanwhile, much of Russia’s more positive economic statistics are likely cherry-picked or distorted, according to two Yale researchers, who made the case that Moscow is heading for a far grimmer future than Putin has let on. Under-the-radar statistics show that Russia’s economy is actually imploding, they previously told Business Insider.
Russian officials, though, have made a point to emphasize the nation’s economic strength while it battles sanctions and war. Only recently did the Kremlin admit Russia had been on the brink of collapse when Western sanctions were first imposed.