Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that sanctions imposed on his country over its involvement in Ukraine were counterproductive and did not correspond to international law.
Speaking to a group of Western journalists at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin criticized the West, saying support for an "unconstitutional coup" interrupted a constructive dialogue over Ukraine.
Those who instigated the "coup" in Ukraine should have thought more carefully about the consequences of their actions, he said.
Western nations have threatened to toughen sanctions if Russia interferes with Sunday's national elections in Ukraine. Russia's natural gas and oil industries could be targeted, for instance.
The U.S. and its European allies first imposed sanctions after Russian lawmakers voted to annex Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in early March. In early May, U.S. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said at a congressional hearing that sanctions — focused on people in Putin's inner circle — had affected Russia’s economy, depressing its stock market and its currency’s value. Some members of Congress disagreed that sanctions were making sufficient impact.
On Friday, after Putin pledged to forum members that he would respect the outcome of the elections and work with the new government, Russia’s stock index and currency rallied.
In Moscow, the MICEX stock index rose 0.6 percent, the Associated Press reported. It also said Russia’s currency, the ruble, ticked up 0.5 percent against the dollar. Trading at 34.1 rubles, it’s the currency’s best performance since Crimea's annexation, the AP said.
Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.