23 February 2018
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Russian economy: overcoming difficulties fast (by Russian Ambassador to UK Alexander Yakovenko, special to RBTH)

For many prominent international observers it is obvious that despite tough challenges, including low energy prices, weak rouble and western sanctions, Russia’s economy has managed to overcome the worst, and started to stabilize, adapting to the new economic reality. As President Vladimir Putin highlighted during the recent annual Direct Line special TV broadcast: “It is clear that there is no collapse, we have survived the peak of the problems, and the fundamentals of the Russian economy have strengthened”.
Russia’s macro-economic state exceeded the expectations of some government experts and independent analysts. The foreign exchange market has calmed down and the economy is gradually adapting to a floating rouble exchange rate. Public debt is low. The federal budget deficit remains at an economically safe level and the unemployment rate stays within reasonable limits, meaning it is much lower than in other countries in comparable figures. The inflation rate is also expected to slow down in 2015-16. Despite difficulties, the government is fully meeting all of its social commitments. According to the Russian Federal Statistic Service, the country’s GDP dropped in first quarter of 2015 by no more than 1.9 per сent – well short of most predictions. Many international economists are now revising their forecasts of the GDP annual contraction figures from 4-4.5 to a narrower 3-3.5 per cent.
In order to tackle the challenges the Government has adopted and been implementing a $35 bn. anti-crisis plan, that includes 60 measures aimed at reversing Russia’s worsening economic situation, exacerbated by the ruble sharp depreciation in the second half of 2014.
The measures stipulated for 2015-2016 are designed to accelerate restructuring of the economy, stabilize strategic companies in the key sectors, balance the labor market, reduce inflation, moderate the consequences of consumer price increases for low-income families as well as secure sustainable growth and macroeconomic stability in the medium term. This Plan is definitely working well.
After losing almost half of its value in 2014, the Russian rouble has recovered already about 30 per cent. Its rally was spurred the Central Bank lowering interests rate, which brought investors back on to the Russian market. For instance, China is going to double its investments in Russia. There was a lot of speculation that Russia was running out of its reserves very quickly. To shatter this myth it would be right to mention that the Central Bank of Russia recently announced that it is going to begin regular operations to buy foreign currencies on the domestic market in order to replenish its international reserves. The scope of such operations is going to stay at $100-200 million per day. As President V.Putin said, the corporate sector paid its commitments of about $130 bn. last year. For this year the amount stands at $60 bn., of which most has already been paid. It is widely acknowledged that Russian financial authorities acted wisely and avoided measures like introduction of capital controls. As the “Financial Times” Moscow correspondent Kathrin Hille correctly put it, costs in local currency have fallen and therefore consumers are more inclined to buy Russian – a process known as import substitution. The Agriculture production is a government priority now, with the growth prediction of 1.4 per cent in 2015. It is not surprising that some economists now talk of “a renaissance” of Russian industry and agriculture, spurred by anti-crisis measures, brought forward by changes in external environment. As said, “Russians are slow to saddle but fast to ride”. It has to be noted, however, that some of the relief came as a result of reciprocal and indiscriminate effects of the external pressures we have to deal with.


14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.

26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.

29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?

18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.

05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.

05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.

30.09.2017 - Russia’s initiative on protecting SMM OSCE in South-East of Ukraine (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 5th September, at the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has announced an initiative to establish the United Nations Mission on Support in Protecting the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) OSCE in the South-East of Ukraine.

25.09.2017 - Eurasian Economic Union today (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Though hardly noticeable in the Western media, the Eurasian economic cooperation is booming, with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) becoming an increasingly effective integration project. The unique format of enhanced economic coordination along with the EAEU member states’ retained political sovereignty and cultural identity is proving itself.

25.09.2017 - On Russia's assistance to Central Asia (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Russia attaches great importance to the issue of sustainable development as it is underlined by the UN. Among our priorities in this area is the development of Central Asia. We contribute to the development of this region on a regular basis, regardless of the global economic crisis and its negative effect on Russia’s economy. In today’s world, international aid is often politically motivated and aimed at exerting one’s influence. Russia has a different approach.

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