Russian President Vladimir Putin does not fully understand why sanctions are being imposed on Russia and does not consider the situation in the Russian economy to be a disaster amid rising unemployment and falling real incomes of Russians.
"We do not impose any sanctions. We only respond somehow, only where it is possible, not to harm ourselves, not to shoot ourselves in the foot. And why the American partners are doing what they are doing so far remains a mystery in many respects," Putin said during a speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
According to Putin, this primarily takes place under the influence of domestic political processes in the United States, while Russian-American relations were held hostage by these processes.
"We have no disagreements with the United States. They have only one disagreement. They want to restrain our development and talk about it publicly. Everything else is derived from this position," Putin said.
As for the Russian economy, "there are problems here," the president acknowledged. Because of the pandemic, "both unemployment has increased, and real incomes have fallen".
"But nothing happened that we could call a disaster," Putin said. "Our decisions to support business, labor collectives, regions, and targeted assistance to Russian families were in demand."
According to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, Rosstat, the real disposable income of Russian citizens have been steadily falling since 2014.
Last year, the incomes fell by 3% and were at a 10-year minimum. Salaries in terms of dollars have fallen to the 2009 level.
In the first quarter of 2021, real incomes fell by 3.6% and for the first time in 5 years real pensions shrank (by 0.1% in April), as inflation exceeded the indexation carried out by the Russian authorities.