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Return to Pre-Sanctions Level of EU-Russia Trade Requires Political Change

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A return to the level of trade between Russia and the European Union that existed before Western sanctions were imposed against Russia is impossible without political decisions on the part of Moscow and Brussels, Russia's First Deputy Economic Development Minister Alexei Likhachev said.

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RUSSKY ISLAND (Sputnik) – The minister recalled that in 2013, when Russian-EU trade was at its highest, the trade volume stood at $436 billion, with direct investment volume reaching $350 billion.

"We are currently in a state of awaiting a signal from Brussels regarding formal consultations, formal talks in any format convenient for the European Union," Likhachev said on Friday, explaining that "without a clear political signal, with no conceptual reversal in the relations between Moscow and Brussels there will certainly be no return to the same figures on the volume of trade."

Likhachev stressed that Brussels has not signaled its readiness to start talks on sanctions in the past two and a half years.

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The United States, the European Union and some of their allies have introduced several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions since Crimea reunified with Russia in 2014, accusing Moscow of meddling in the internal Ukrainian conflict.

Russia has repeatedly refuted the accusations and warned that the sanctions are counterproductive and undermine regional and global stability.

Likhachev said on Friday that the latest expansion of US sanctions against Russia will only have a minimal impact on the Russian economy.

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