MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Russian government has made all necessary efforts to protect the country's population from the negative impact of sanctions imposed by Western countries, UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures Idriss Jazairy told Sputnik on Friday.
"The government of Russia has taken very appropriate measures to insulate the population from the most adverse impact of the sanctions, but it does mean that it has taken an additional burden to do that," Jazairy said after a press conference in Moscow on results of his visit to Russia to study the impact of Western sanctions.
He added that Russian policies were successful, especially in light of unstable oil prices.
"It is a sign of its success that despite the fact that the oil prices are not getting back to a very high level, the economic situation is nevertheless improving," the UN official said.
Jazairy pointed out that the Russian government was also able to raise the level of cohesion between the people and government during the past three years.
"We should not downplay the impact of the sanctions, but at the same time there has been a lot of cohesion between the population and the government," Jazairy said.
Since 2014, relations between Russia and the European Union and the United States, deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. Brussels, Washington and their allies introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia on the pretext of its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, which Moscow has repeatedly denied. In response to the restrictive measures, Russia has imposed a food embargo on some products originating in countries that have targeted it with sanctions.
Russian Welfare Drop in 2014-2016 Mainly Caused by Low Oil Prices
The level of welfare in Russia decreased over the past three years mainly due to a significant drop in oil prices, though the Western sanctions also had a negative impact on the situation, Jazairy said.
"When you look in the situation in 2014, 2015, 2016, it is difficult to assess the percentage of that downward swing which can be attributed to sanctions and the percentage which can be attributed to the drop in the price of oil. It is my belief that essentially that deterioration of enjoyment of human rights has been caused by the price of oil, but we should not underestimate that sanctions also made situation worse," Jazairy said.
Jazairy added that due to Russia's advanced level of development the sanctions rather played a role of "irritant" than had a real impact on the situation in the country.
"In Russia, because it has reached an advanced level of development, because it has such a diverse economy with such potential, it is a question of improving diminishing welfare of the population. It is not a vital issue, it is an irritant," Jazairy said.
Jazairy is currently on a week-long visit to Russia at the invitation from the Russian Foreign Ministry. According to Jazairy, he "was greatly privileged to come" to Russia, and it was "especially interesting" for him to see how "a major advanced country" coped with the sanctions' impact.
Russia has been hit by a downturn that began in early 2015 after falling oil prices and Western anti-Russia sanctions took bite. The country's GDP fell 3.7 percent in 2015, according to the Russian Federal Statistics Service Rosstat.
On April 18, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its World Economic Outlook report that Russian economic growth is expected to pick up in 2017 — 2018 and will reach 1.4 percent for both years.