| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

Vladimir Putin delivers keynote address at St Petersburg forum

 President Vladimir Putin is delivering the keynote address at Russia’s showcase St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Here are some quotations from his speech, translated by Reuters.

On the Russian economy:

“Positive macroeconomic trends are gaining momentum and strength. In April of this year, gross domestic product grew by 3.3% in annual terms, and by the end of the year it will add more than a percent. Well, anyway, according to the IMF (the Russian economy will grow in 2023 by) 0.7%, but… I agree with those of our experts who believe that growth will be higher, somewhere up to 1.5%, and maybe even (just) under 2%. And this will allow our country to keep its place among the leading economies of the world.”

“We have maintained a responsible, balanced budgetary and monetary policy. Their effective combination made it possible to reach the minimum levels of unemployment, as well as inflation, which is now lower in Russia than in many Western countries, both in the eurozone and in other regions, (and) is close to a historical minimum of 2.9%. Unemployment 3.3%. It has never been so low in our history.”

“The dynamics of non-oil and gas revenues attracts attention. In January-May they grew by 9.1%, which is noticeably higher than expected, while in May the rate was plus 28.5% … This is an important indicator that the real sector of our economy, its manufacturing sector, trade and services are developing and gaining momentum.”

On Russian defence spending:

“Today, our public finances are generally balanced, there is a small current federal budget deficit, … Naturally, additional funds were needed to strengthen defence and security, to purchase weapons, we are obliged to do this to protect the sovereignty of our country.”

On foreign businesses leaving Russia:

“I will say that if foreign manufacturers want to return again, come to our market, and we hear such conversations more and more often, we are not closing the doors to anyone. Of course, no one is afraid of competition, and, as you know, it is the engine of progress and trade. We will also create the necessary conditions for them to work in Russia”.

“You know very well that we have never driven anyone from our market or our economy. On the contrary, we suggested that (foreign businesses) weigh all the pros and cons, think carefully about their Russian partners and the possible consequences of such a step.”

“If at first our entrepreneurs were very worried about the departure of Western companies, now they are occupying vacated production facilities and sites in shopping centres”.

On national currencies in international settlements:

“Today, about 90% of settlements with the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union are in roubles, more than 80% of settlements with China are in roubles and yuan. We are actively developing trade in national currencies with other states, too. Priority is given to the nearest neighbours, as well as the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation countries.”

On forex amnesty for Russian business:

“I propose to declare an amnesty for business for forced currency violations committed during the moratorium and completely close this issue, so that later there is no reason to hold the business accountable, as they say, retroactively.”

On returning assets to Russian jurisdiction:

“I ask the government, in contact with the business community, to expedite the return of assets in key industries to Russian jurisdiction … This must be done before December of this year.”

On Western freezing of Russian assets:

“The situation when funds are earned in Russia and then deposited in foreign accounts carries obvious and often unacceptable risks not only for the state, but also for Russian business itself. Many of our businessmen were convinced of this by their own example when they saw and were surprised to find that their accounts and assets were frozen in the West.”

On Ukraine conflict:

“Soon Ukraine will stop using its own equipment altogether. Nothing remains of it. Everything with which they fight and everything that they use is brought in from the outside. You can’t fight for long like that.”

On Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Jewish heritage:

“I have many Jewish friends. They say Zelenskiy is not a Jew, he is a disgrace to the Jewish people.”

  • Reuters