Medvedev: Russia will react asymmetrically to all sanctions

Further introduction of sanctions against Russia may compromise security system in the world, because political sanctions may follow economic ones, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in an interview with the Vedomosti newspaper.

"We understand that at first, there are economic sanctions, and then political ones follow in response, and political things are always asymmetrical. This is bigger than  restriction of supplies, as it may break security in the world. I hope that our Western partners do not want it, and there are no crazy people among those, who make decisions," said Medvedev.

In late August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States suspected that Russian hackers, in retaliation for sanctions, stole and declassified gigabytes of confidential information from JPMorgan Chase & Co.. Now the FBI is trying to establish whether the cyber attack is connected with recent hackings of several European banks.

Medvedev also said in the interview with the newspaper that sanctions had been imposed on a number of countries before, both through the UN and individual states. "As a rule, they do not lead to anything positive. Duration was different, but this is not an endless topic," he said, adding that "sanctions are always a double-edged story." According to the Russian PM, restrictions affect those who initiate them.

However, the prime minister said, sanctions could be advantageous to the countries, against which they were imposed. As an example, Medvedev referred to the People's Republic of China, against which sanctions were imposed in 1989.

"The sanctions against China are very similar to those that were imposed on us. Now let's see: did China's economy begin to develop worse after that? None. Did the Chinese deviate from the course that was set exactly at the end of the 80s? No. Are they a successful economy? Without a doubt. This is an economy, which will soon become the first in the world. Did they change the social order, did they feel punished? No. They just mobilized internal resources, in a way not to cut the country from the outside world. To a certain extent, the People's Republic of China took advantage of those sanctions," said Medvedev.

As Medvedev said in the interview, Russia could have taken responsive measures before, but the government had the position not to respond to the actions of the West. According to him, the decision on the embargo on food supplies was taken after consultations and could be adjusted in the interests of Russian companies.

"It was not us who started it. We wanted to respond earlier, but it was the position of the president - not to respond to those actions. When there were several waves of sanctions, we had to make a decision. What is important: this is a political decision that the vast majority of the population of our country supports," said Medvedev.

As the head of the government said, the decision on responsive measures was not spontaneous - it came after consultations with experts in the field of foreign trade and economy. Speaking about the damage to Russian business and protection of interests of Russian companies, Medvedev said that for business, the measures taken were force majeure, but doing it in a softer way was impossible.

According to him, it was possible to allow shipments of all paid goods to Russia, and they would be going to Russia before the end of the year, but this did not make sense. As Medvedev noted, Russian farmers reacted positively to Russia's measures.

Medvedev acknowledged that although the decision to impose the food embargo had been carefully prepared, officials did not manage to take everything into account. "So we had to take one more decision to lift the ban on lactose-free milk and fry." "Further adjustments are possible, because the government should not harm our citizens. We should try to take advantage of the situation that appeared contrary to our will, interests of our country and economy."

According to Medvedev, the government is considering a possibility of additional funding for programs to support agriculture. The price of the question is tens of billions of rubles.

"We have started the program to support underdeveloped sectors of agriculture - fish farming, greenhouse vegetables, horticulture and those segments of animal husbandry that require support - beef cattle and dairy farming. We are talking about tens of billions of rubles," said the head of the government.

At the same time, Medvedev said, if Russia's Western partners "come to their senses" and shelve sanctions, the Russian authorities will also waive restrictions. "I hope that by that time, our suppliers will be able to take the right place on the market," he said.

Medvedev analyzed the situation in Ukraine from the point of view of economy. He emphasized that the burden of reconstruction of destroyed regions will lie on the Kiev authorities, and it is already clear that the burden will not be easy.

"Besides many buildings, there are a lot of destroyed facilities there. How are they going to be restored? This is a very big problem. It's up for Ukraine to take care of the problem as long as the Ukrainian authorities believe that these regions are a part of the country," he said.

As for Russia, the country continues to provide assistance to Ukrainian refugees, who try to escape from fighting on the territory of the neighboring country. According to Medvedev, since the beginning of the year, Russia has already assigned almost a billion rubles for refugees from the south-east of Ukraine.

Russia's turn to the Asia-Pacific region emerged due to the need to diversify trade flows, said Medvedev.

"The trade turnover between Russia and China is now around $100 billion, and with Europe - 450 billion. This is almost a half of Russia's trade. Obviously, we need to be actively present in the Asia-Pacific region," said the prime minister.

"We need to trade, receive investments, work with China, India, Vietnam, with other major and not very major players of the region. Therefore, this turn came on time, but it was not because of the sanctions and the political situation - it was because we had to diversify trade flows," says Medvedev.

"I do not see any problems here, if we are going to make sound decisions," he replied to the question of whether Russia was going to fall into dependence on China.

"China is the largest trade partner of the United States of America. There are many discussions going on about it there, but no one calls independence of the United States into question," said Medvedev.

Should the West impose new sanctions against Russia in energy or financial sector, Moscow will have to respond asymmetrically, for example, banning flights over the territory of the Russian Federation, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

"If new sanctions associated with energy and finance follow, we will have to respond asymmetrically," he said.

"We believe that we have friendly relations with our partners, so the sky over Russia is open to flights. But if they impose restrictions on us, we will have to respond," said Medvedev.

According to him, if Western carriers are forced to fly out of Russian airspace, it may lead to the bankruptcy of many airlines, especially those that already balance on the brink of survival. "But that is a bad story. We would like our partners to realize that at some point. Sanctions do not build peace in Ukraine," Medvedev said.

Medvedev said that he was hopeful that "partners would be smarter" not to introduce sectoral sanctions on Russia.


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov