SPIEF 2022. The World according to Putin

87

The 25th Economic Forum, the first since the sanctions against Russia after the attack on Ukraine on 24 February, showed a Russia on the offensive and not on the defensive, even from an economic point of view, capable of thinking from now until 2050. Naturally, the most eagerly awaited words came from the premier on the afternoon of 17 June.

On the eve of Putin’s speech, Mikhail Belyaev, a financial analyst said: ‘Vladimir Putin’s speech, I believe, will be divided into two main messages. Firstly, the President will emphasise that Russia continues to play an important role in the world economic space, therefore the freezing of our country’s cooperation on many issues with the states that have announced sanctions risks leading to the destruction of the entire trade balance construction of the planet. Secondly, the head of state will focus on the topic, which is one of the mottos of the forum: the world is on the threshold of a new economic reality’.

Putin did not mince words and descended into the SPIEF 2022 agonising, stating: ‘Our partners in the West have deliberately undermined international foundations in the name of their geopolitical illusions. The US, having declared victory in the Cold War, has declared its own interests sacred, now the game is one-sided, under these conditions the world is unstable. The current changes in the international economy and politics are tectonic and revolutionary. Colleagues in the West are trying to counter the course of history, they think in the terms of the last century, they are in illusions and do not want to notice the changes. The ‘golden billion’ countries still consider everyone else their colonies, second class’. Turning then to the economic issue, he said: ‘Russian companies and authorities worked together and united during the imposition of sanctions against Russia. Gloomy predictions about the Russian economy, sounded in early spring, have not come true, mantras about the dollar at 200 and other Western predictions are part of the information war. We must be extremely honest in assessing the state of the economy and believe in our strength, we can face any challenge and solve any problem. I believe it is possible to reduce the rate on soft loans to 7% again, which will last until the end of the year. The economic blitzkrieg against Russia initially had no chance of success. The EU’s direct losses alone due to sanctions fever can exceed USD 400 billion in one year, these costs fall on the people, inflation in some eurozone countries is already 20%. A high key rate prevents economic growth, but has allowed people to save in banks’. Putin predicts a further worsening of inequality in Europe and, consequently, a split in society due to mistakes in the economy: the current situation will lead to a wave of radicalism and, in the future, a change of elites. And speaking of Europe, he said: ‘The EU has finally lost its political sovereignty, its elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, harming their own people, the real interests of Europeans and national affairs are not being put into anything and are being pushed aside. What is happening in the world is not the result of the events of these months, including a special military operation, it all started a long time ago because of the irresponsible policy of the G7’. According to Putin: ‘Russia’s special operation has become a “lifeline” for the West to blame Russia for the problems (…) In the coming years the world will start the process of converting gold and foreign exchange reserves from depreciating currencies into real values, in the context of the inflationary struggle, the economy of imaginary entities is replacing the economy of real assets’. On the issue of Ukrainian wheat he said: ‘There are 5-6 options for the export of Ukrainian wheat, I leave it to the authorities in Kiev to decide how to do it, without focusing on their overseas owners. The saddest option is if Ukraine provided grain in exchange for arms (…) All the tasks of the Russian special operation will definitely be completed (…) Russia will never follow the path of autarky, it is necessary to ensure the development of the economy based on private business and further remove administrative burdens’. Addressing businesses, he said: ‘True success is only possible when you connect your future and that of your children with your land’.

Putin asked the government to allocate additional funds for the development of the Far East. And heading to the end of his speech, he urged change, to feel the breath of time: ‘Russia is entering a new era as a powerful and sovereign country’. Among the laws in the pipeline is the decriminalisation of economic crimes, a decrease in company inspections and new social housing.

These words were echoed by the Kazakh Prime Minister, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who declared as an urgent task “the coupling of Eurasian integration with the Chinese concept of the ‘New Silk Road'”.

Anna Lotti