The Western sanctions have forced Russia to develop more actively its economic ties with Asia, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the World Congress of Russian Press on June 11.
“It was a planned step. One can’t focus on one economy only because when a donor economy begins to wither, the beneficiary-state begins to degrade,” Medvedev said.
“Since Russia is a vast country, it is obliged to look in all directions. We have special friends in the Eurasian Economic Union, particularly, Kazakhstan, but we must not focus on this direction only. Historically we have a European identity. So, it is nonsense to say that the door into Europe – the door Peter the Great once opened for us – has been closed for ever. Our culture is still based on European values and this is normal,” Medvedev said.
He said that the Western sanctions had prompted the Russians to be more active in developing their ties with Asia. “So, we can even thank the West for this,” Medvedev said.
“We have always considered the Asian vector, but as we in Russia say, a peasant needs thunder to cross himself... We have a 400bn EUR trade turnover with the EU. This is a huge figure. So, we felt no need to be very active in Asia. Now, we have become more active there. I have convoked several forums and have urged our businessmen to move eastwards. If they in the West no longer want us, let’s develop ties in the East – especially as we are welcome there,” Medvedev said.
He added that that tendency would be continued irrespective of the Western sanctions.