Russian President Vladimir Putin met with representatives of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs behind closed doors, with western sanctions on the agenda.
According to Reuters, Putin told the prominent grouping of company chiefs and tycoons the West cannot sustain its sanctions against Russia in the long term.
“I think that those who are doing this will themselves tire of it soon, and…I hope that we will embark on the path of normal relations,” Russian news agencies quoted him as saying about the sanctions imposed by the West.
Putin’s comments follow reports of concerns among the Russian elite about the sanctions, which have had an effect on Russia’s economy and complicated trade and business dealings with the West.
The United States, the European Union, and others have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its seizure of the Crimean Peninsula and role in the war in eastern Ukraine.
Some Western countries including the United States have also hit Russia with sanctions over issues including evidence of human rights abuses and alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
On January 30, the U.S. Treasury Department published a list of 114 senior Russian political figures and 96 “oligarchs” who U.S. authorities say have gained wealth or power through association with Putin.
Those on the list were not immediately hit with sanctions and the United States did not impose any new sanctions on Russia at the time, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that “additional sanctions” would be imposed “in the near future.”
Putin condemned the U.S. move as an “unfriendly act” that would “complicate the already grave” state of U.S.-Russian relations but signaled that Moscow would not take major retaliatory steps.