The United States was seeking to contain China’s development when it took action against Chinese telecom giant Huawei, and it is doing the same thing to Russia, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin who made the comment during his annual televised Q&A with the Russian people on Thursday.
He said the US had targeted Huawei because China has become the US’ rival.
“Let’s take the attack on Huawei: where did it come from and what is the reason behind it? The only reason is to contain the development of China who has become a global rival to another global power-the United States,” Putin said.
The Russian president said the West has no interest in changing its attitude toward Russia, and therefore Moscow will not compromise on its fundamental national interests in the face of sanctions.
“There is no talk about a truce,” he said. “If we totally surrender and spit on our fundamental national interests, will there be any fundamental changes? Maybe, there will be some external signals. But nothing will change dramatically.”
Putin added that Russia’s losses from economic sanctions were more than five times lower than those of the main countries that imposed them.
“According to expert data, as a result of these restrictions, Russia lost about 50 billion US dollars since 2014, while the European Union lost 240 billion dollars, the United States, 17 billion dollars, and Japan 27 billion dollars,” Putin said.
He said the losses were reflected in a reduction in the number of jobs in the countries that imposed sanctions as a result of losing the Russian market.
Western countries have imposed various sets of economic sanctions against Russian entities and individuals since Crimea was incorporated into Russia in 2014 following a referendum and due to Moscow’s alleged interference in Ukraine.
Moscow responded with counter-sanctions, which included impediments on the importation of some goods, including food, from Western countries.
However, Putin said the sanctions had a positive effect because they forced Russia to “switch on its brains” and develop some sectors of its economy, including high technology.
Putin said that, after the introduction of sanctions, Russia launched an import substitution program in the amount of 667 billion rubles (around 10.6 billion dollars) to develop lagging areas.
The Q&A session was Putin’s 17th. The first Direct Line with Vladimir Putin was held in late 2001. Since then, the event was held annually, except for 2004 and 2012, according to Russia’s Tass News Agency.
Putin addresses the nation during his annual question and answer session, during which he answers questions that come in by telephone, text, email, social media, or live via television studios.
According to infographics released by the Rossiya-24 channel, a total of 1,053,326 questions had been submitted as of 09:00 Moscow time on Wednesday. More than half of them (616,505 questions) were asked by phone, while 291,311 were transmitted via SMS and MMS messages. Some 55,133 came in through a mobile app, 49,800 by way of a website, and 40,557 via social networks.