Cutting Russia’s reliance on oil cannot happen at once, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with TASS published on Wednesday, adding that his government is trying to shield the economy from turbulence in global energy markets.
“We are gradually weaning off [oil], by the way. We are really moving away from it because the share of non-oil and non-gas revenues is growing. But this requires time, and it cannot be done at the drop of a hat,” Putin said.
Despite official statistics showing that the inflation rate currently stands at around 3.5 percent, Russian people feel that prices are going up and their incomes have been on the decline in recent years, the president acknowledged.
Incomes were hit badly by a steep decline in global crude prices, and the government is “obliged” to do something to settle this key social issue, he said.
“Everything kept growing as long as oil was at $100 per barrel or higher. Now it is $60. You see the difference, don’t you?” Putin said. “This explains why we launched these National Projects with the aim of changing the economy’s structure and promoting self-sustaining development.”
The Russian economy, which was booming during Putin’s first tenure as president, began stagnating as a result of falling energy prices and sweeping western sanctions.