Russia does not want 'closed economy': PM
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday Russia did not want to close itself off from the global economy, and warned Western efforts to isolate or ignore such a powerful nation were "impossible".
"I consider that talk of making fundamental changes to the country's development model is inappropriate -- inappropriate and not needed. About creating a so-called mobilised, or closed, economy," Medvedev said at an investment conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"Our country does not need such economy. No country needs such an economy."
"Our priorities remain unchanged. We will not change our course," said Medvedev, who served a four-year stint as president before ceding the Kremlin back to his mentor Vladimir Putin in 2012.
In defiant rhetoric, Medvedev said Brussels and Washington must take nuclear-power Russia's interests into account, adding that some Western countries "have stopped recognising the fact that Russia has national interests".
"We have the largest territory, we are a nuclear power, nearly 150 million people live in Russia, we are a territory with huge natural resources, a large market for goods, services and investment," said the 49-year-old prime minister.
Russia is locked in a dramatic confrontation with the West over Ukraine, where Kremlin-backed separatists have been battling pro-Western Kiev forces since April.
Brussels and Washington have imposed several rounds of tough sanctions on Russia in a bid to cripple the country's economy and make Moscow change its course.
But Putin has defied the sanctions and says they could even help the country to become more self-sufficient.
Many observers have expressed fears that instead of changing tack, Moscow will isolate itself further, and that its policies will become more unpredictable.
"What do our opponents want?" Medvedev said at the Sochi forum.
"To build a new world order which is based on uncompromising confrontation, or maybe simply close their eyes tight and pretend that Russia no longer exists? To isolate half the European continent from the rest of the world? This is impossible."
"No one can predict what effect the sanctions against Russia will have long-term on the global economy," he added.
The Internet-savvy, i-Pad-wielding prime minister said that decades of the Soviet Union's confrontation with the West proved that sanctions did not work, reeling off a number of punitive measures the West slapped against the USSR.
"And what, has the development of our country stopped?"
Russia has banned most food imports from the West in response to its sanctions over Ukraine, which cut off the access of major banks and companies from capital markets and imposed travel bans and asset freezes on key allies of Putin.
Medvedev insisted that Russia was "capable of producing a lot on its own territory" and that the government would confirm plans aimed at boosting domestic industry and agriculture by the end of the month.
During his stint as president, Medvedev repeatedly tried to break out of Putin's shadow and briefly raised hopes of democratic reforms but most of those attempts were indecisive and half-hearted.
© 2014 AFP