Russia’s Projected Economic Rebound Depends on 'External Factors' - Experts

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Experts claim that Putin's goal of restoring Russia’s economic growth within two years will depend on outside factors including the price of oil and the lifting of Western sanctions.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik)- Russian President Vladimir Putin's goal of restoring Russia’s economic growth within two years will depend on outside factors including the price of oil and the lifting of Western sanctions against Moscow, experts told Sputnik.

“A Russian economic rebound is largely in the hands of external factors, such as the oil price[s], sanctions, and other aspects of the global economy,” Woodrow Wilson Center Russia expert Michael Kofman told Sputnik on Thursday.

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Kofman argued that Russia can only attempt to manage the crisis, and even use the situation to motivate internal reforms, but economic recovery on a national scale is largely out of Putin's hands.

“He [Putin]has to believe it will recover in two years, because that is the rough estimated capacity for Russia to withstand the crisis,” Kofman said.

Earlier on Thursday, Putin said that Russia’s economy would be restored within the next two years with the help of a strengthening Rouble and the growth of markets, but cautioned that a minor decline in Moscow’s production is to be expected over the next year.

“So, is [Russia’s economy] booming? No it’s not, but then again, it’s under sanctions,” American University Professor of Russian History Anton Fedyashin told Sputnik.

“Have those sanctions crippled Russia or really had an enormous impact on the economy? Well, not to the extent that the West intended them to,” Fedyashin added.

In 2014, Russia was hit by an economic downturn amid a dramatic drop in oil prices on the global market and because of Western economic sanctions imposed on Moscow over its alleged participation in the Ukraine crisis.

Fedyashin argued that the speed of the recovery will depend on whether Moscow can attract foreign investment.

“Attracting sufficient foreign investment into an environment that many Western lenders and banks are somewhat suspicious of,” is one area Russia should focus on to prompt the economy to recover, he noted.

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Russia has been partly successful with attracting direct Chinese investments, Fedyashin explained, especially investments into major infrastructural projects such as the new gas pipeline. “But we’ll see whether Russia can translate these into other sectors of the economy.”

The Russian economy has shown a mixed performance, Fedyashin concluded, but certainly “has not imploded and is not in tatters the way President Obama describes it.”

Earlier in April, Russia was approved into the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a financial institution which aims to boost investment in infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Russian Rouble lost close to half of its value in 2014, but the currency’s value began to stabilize following the start of 2015.

In March 2015, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that the Russian economy has overcome the lowest point in 2014 and is now recovering.

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