Putin: Ukraine’s wealth declines since collapse USSR, loss of the Russian market

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KIEV – Ukraine has lost its status as an industrialized country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said when speaking at Russian Energy Week 2019.

“Ukraine, when together with Russia was part of the Soviet Union, was a high-tech industrialized republic,” while at present “has lost the status of an industrialized country,” said the Russian leader.

He added that Ukraine’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) “has not simply fallen but has collapsed in recent years due to the loss of the Russian market, some sectors of Ukrainian industry have virtually ceased to exist.”

Relations between Russia and Ukraine worsened following the Donbass conflict and the accession of Crimea to Russia following the March 2014 referendum, in which over 96% of voters supported this option.

Ukraine accuses Russia of intervening in the internal affairs of the country and participating in the Donbass conflict.

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Moscow has repeatedly insisted that it is not part of the Ukrainian internal conflict and is interested in overcoming the crisis as quickly as possible in the neighboring nation.

On December 30, 2015, Kiev passed a decree prohibiting the importation of a number of items from Russia and, at the end of 2018, this embargo was extended until December 31, 2019.

On April 10, the Ukrainian government expanded the list of trade sanctions against Russia.

On April 18, Moscow took countermeasures against actions by the Ukrainian government restricting the sale of a number of machine-tool, light, metallurgical and papermaking industries, as well as clothing and footwear, as well as the oil sector.

In an interview with AFP on the sidelines of a forum in Kiev last month, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky defended the maintenance of the current policy of restrictions against Moscow, despite expressing a “feeling” that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be ready to improve bilateral relations.

Speaking to attendees of the annual Yalta European Strategy (YES) meeting, the politician said some Ukrainian partners would be considering ending these sanctions ahead of time.

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