Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a review of Moscow’s position within the World Trade Organization to counter “illegal” sanctions imposed over its military operation in Ukraine.
Putin told a televised government meeting that Western governments broke WTO rules by imposing politically-motivated import restrictions on Russian products such as steel and other metals.
“I instruct the government to conduct a comprehensive review of the legitimacy of the actions taken by our Western trading partners, and to prepare an updated strategy for our actions within the World Trade Organization,” Putin said.
He said the review must be completed by June 1 but provided no details about what it might entail.
Putin’s comments came during a meeting focused on how to revive Russia’s key metals industry.
Russia is one of the world’s largest exporters of raw products such as rolled steel.
“The unfriendly steps towards Russia’s metals producers were taken to suit immediate political interests,” Putin said.
Putin further instructed his ministers to find ways to stimulate domestic demand for Russian steel in order to keep factories running and preserve jobs.
“There is no reason to believe that our partners’ behaviour will substantially change,” he warned.
Russian steel giant Severstal ran out of time last month to pay interest on its foreign debt because international banks were afraid that processing its transaction would violate Western sanctions on Moscow.
Putin said Russia’s steelmakers could be supported through “long-term projects and programmes” that benefit demand and economic growth.
The International Monetary Fund expects Russia’s economy to shrink by 8.5 percent this year because of Western financial and trade restrictions. — Agence France-Presse