New US Sanctions Could Actually Boost Russian Economy, Moscow Trade Officials Claim

Another round of American economic measures aimed against Russia could have the unintended effect of strengthening the country’s economy, officials in Moscow have warned as Washington considers introducing new embargoes this week, RT reports.

“Fresh US sanctions will only intensify the process of switching away from dependency on imports in our technological supply chains,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry and Trade told RIA Novosti on Monday. Instead, the department said, “the money used to pay for imports will stay in the country and go towards employees’ salaries and developing new enterprises.”

At the beginning of March, the US State Department announced it would target nine Russian businesses and one research institute over allegations they were involved in a secretive chemical weapons development program. The Kremlin has denied these charges, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisting that “Russia has no chemical weapons.”

Last week, the head of a scientific equipment wholesaler, whose firm was among those targeted by Washington, said the assertions were “nonsense.” According to Andrey Mezinov, the director general of Femteko LLC, the company had only ever supplied two low-value shipments of everyday equipment to government research labs. Femteko is now considering legal options to reverse the move by the State Department.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is reportedly already engaged in “import substitution” in the radio-electronic industry, offering subsidies, tax incentives, and raising demand in exchange for Russian companies manufacturing parts that would otherwise need to be shipped in. “Moreover, the radio electronics market today is not only technologies from the United States, it includes a number of available products from other countries,” the press service added.

These initiatives, officials say, will shore up industries like aviation against the prospect of Western sanctions. The MS-21, an advanced passenger jet under development by the United Aircraft Corporation, a state company, has already been equipped with domestically-made engines and composite wings for test flights. “The aircraft will become Russian by more than 98 percent,” the ministry added.

Speaking to ABC News last week, US President Joe Biden said that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, would “pay a price” for alleged interference in favor of Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election. After a report was published alleging Moscow tried to meddle in the campaign, American media reported that sanctions could be published as early as this week.