Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Monday that Western sanctions on his country are causing “colossal” high-tech issues in Russia’s high-tech industry, the Daily Mail reports.
Putin said that it was impossible to cut Russia off from the rest of the world, and that sanctions imposed by Western countries would not turn the clock back on Russia’s development.
Since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russia has been hit with a barrage of Western sanctions, designed to isolate it from the global economy, that have deprived it of access to goods, including commercial electronics, semiconductors, and aircraft parts.
“Not just restrictions but the almost-complete closure of access to foreign high-tech products is being deliberately, intentionally used against our country,” Putin said, speaking at a video conference with government figures.
“It is clear that this is a huge challenge for our country, but … we are not going to give up and stay in a state of disarray or, as some of our ‘well-wishers’ predict, go back decades. Of course not,” he said.
Putin said Russia would have to develop its own domestic technology and technology firms.
“This is a huge challenge for our country,” Putin said. “Realizing the colossal amount of difficulties we are facing, we will look for new solutions in an energetic and competent manner.
“Clearly, we cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world, but we won’t. In today’s world, you can’t just, you know, circle everything with a compass and put up a huge fence, it’s just not possible.”
Major tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Intel either suspended their Russian operations or have left the country since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has left Russia with few alternatives from the inside.
Putin noted that many of Russia’s growing tech firms, such as online retailer Ozon or internet company Yandex, have been hurt without access to Western financing.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said support for the Russian technology sector was a priority, but that every ruble of state support should be accompanied by at least three rubles of private investment.
“I very much look forward to detailed proposals from both the finance ministry and the Bank of Russia,” Putin said.
Putin’s admission comes as EU leaders meet in Russia to discuss even more sanctions on Russia as well as more aid for Ukraine.
EU foreign ministers were zooming in Monday on tightening the extensive package of sanctions on Russia and looking at ways to add a ban on gold exports in hopes that the measures might finally start to have a decisive impact on the war in Ukraine.
The EU ministers also made a commitment to add another 500 million euros in military aid to Ukraine’s war chest to beef up the defense of the nation.
On restrictive measures, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said that at the moment “the most important thing is a ban on Russian gold,” which is Moscow’s second-largest export industry after energy.”
The Group of Seven leading industrial nations last month already committed to a gold ban, arguing that Russia has used its gold to back up its currency to circumvent the impact of several rounds of sanctions that nations around the world had already imposed on Moscow after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The 27 EU ministers will also assess how they can tighten controls on exports of high technology to Russia for a possible decision later in the week.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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