In a combative interview with a Swedish newspaper, the Russian ambassador to the UK defiantly claimed that his boss “didn’t give a s**t” about Western sanctions. Leaders from the West have repeatedly threatened to unleash a raft of stringent economic measures against Russia should Mr Putin march his troops into Ukraine. On Sunday, US State Department’s Derek Chollet reiterated Washington’s determination to impose “swift and severe” costs on Moscow, should war break out.
He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning that Russia would face “crippling” economic sanctions.
It is a message that the British Foreign Secretary delivered in person to the Kremlin last week, when she met her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for talks.
Ms Truss said in a statement prior to her visit: “We have said many times that any further invasion would incur severe costs, including through a coordinated package of sanctions.”
Economic measures being considered are expected to target both Russian businesses and individuals in a range of sectors including chemical, defence, extractives, ICT and financial services industries.
However, Viktor Tatarintsev emphatically brushed aside any Russian concerns about sanctions in an interview with the Aftonbladet newspaper.
“Excuse my language, but we don’t give a s**t about all their sanctions,” he said.
“We have already had so many sanctions and in that sense they’ve had a positive effect on our economy and agriculture.”
Moscow has worked hard to shore up its vulnerability to Western sanctions ever since its annexation of Crimea in 2014, when economic restrictions were first imposed.
Russia experts Michael Kofmann and Andrea Kendall-Taylor noted in an article for Foreign Affairs that Moscow had successfully created budget surpluses and a growing war chest in the ensuing years.
They pointed to the size of Russia’s National Wealth Fund, which as of August 2021 contained $185billion.
Additionally, Mr Putin has at his disposal a massive $615billion in foreign reserves.
The veteran diplomat insisted that the Kremlin did not want war.
“That is our political leadership’s most sincere wish,” he claimed.
“The last thing people in Russia want is war.”
Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said a “very strong and united international response’ is needed for ‘this Russian belligerence.”
She told BBC One’s Sunday Morning programme with Sophie Raworth: “It is immensely serious and nobody should be naive about what Russia is up to, and the scale of the troops amassing on the Ukraine border.”