SOCHI, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - The West has targeted Russia for sanctions to isolate it and hamper its development, but the world has moved on since the times of the Cold War, and a goal like this can no longer be achieved, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said Friday.
"Of course, sanctions disturb us. These sanctions are aimed to do harm, block our development and lead to our isolation in politics, economy and culture – in one word, to cause backwardness. However, as I have already said and want to emphasize it again, the world has seen fundamental changes," Putin said at the Valdai Discussion Forum in the Russian city of Sochi.
The Russian leader stressed that Moscow was not going to "take offense" at countries that had been forced to join the Western bloc in imposing anti-Russia sanctions and "distance itself from the world", and said the country was still open for dialogue.
"We are not going to distance ourselves from the world and choose self-sufficiency. We are always open to dialogue on the normalization of economic relations. Here we count on a pragmatic approach of business communities of major world powers," he said.
Putin vowed that Russia would maintain its business ties with the West amid allegations that it was "turning away from Europe" in search for more lucrative deals in Asia. He admitted Russia was now interested in forging a stronger partnership with Asian-Pacific economies, but said this would not happen at the expense of European markets.
The Russian leader cautioned, however, that sanctions against Russia were "a mistake that harms everyone."
The president emphasized the threat that Western sanctions posed to the WTO rules that underlie world trade. These restrictions undermine the very fundamentals of world trade, such as inviolability of private property and liberal model of globalization, he maintained.
"Sanctions are already undermining the fundamentals of world trade and WTO rules, inviolability of private property and liberal model of globalization rooted in the market, freedom and competition, the model of which Western countries are the main beneficiaries. Now they are at risk of losing the trust as leaders of globalization. So, why did they do it?" Putin said, adding that "the trust is being broken."
He emphasized that the global business community was subject to an unprecedented pressure from the western governments, vying to isolate Russia over its take on the origins of the Ukrainian crisis.
"There can be no business, economic efficiency and pragmatism, when a state is threatened, a free world is threatened, democracy is threatened," the president warned.
At the same time, US-led sanctions had backlashed at Washington and compromised the trust of investors and foreign holders of US dollars, Putin pointed out.
"The well-being of the United States hinges on the trust of its investors and foreign dollar and bond holders. This trust has been effectively undermined. Many countries have been showing signs of disappointment in the outcome of the globalization…" the Russian president explained.
"It does look like our American colleagues have been sawing off the branch they are sitting on. You cannot mix politics and economy, but that's exactly what they've been doing," Putin noted.
He said, however, that even economic curbs had their silver lining in that they encouraged countries to seek economic and financial sovereignty.
"The infamous 'Cyprus precedent', the politically-motivated sanctions only strengthened the shift towards economic and financial sovereignty [and] efforts by states or regional [state] unions to protect themselves against the risks of external pressure one way or another," Putin said.
The Russian president noted that already more and more countries were attempting to end their dependence on the dollar, and create alternative financial systems and reserve currencies.
Over the past few months, the West has been trying to damage Russia's economy by imposing sanctions against the country over its alleged role in Ukrainian crisis. The sanctions target Russia's largest banks, energy and defense companies, as well as some individuals. As a result, Russia's economy showed a minor slowdown.
Speaking at the Sochi forum, Vladimir Putin said that the crisis in Ukraine was not "the primary cause", but rather the fallout of deteriorating international relations.
"This crisis led to the deterioration of international relations, but it's not the primary cause. The Ukrainian crisis itself resulted from unbalanced international relations," the president said.
He confessed that the Kremlin had initially led what he called a "civilized discussion" over Ukraine's association agreement with the European Union, but its arguments had been ignored and Ukraine ended up in chaos.
"We have been conducting a civilized discussion on all issues connected with the association of Ukraine with the European Union… And, instead of a hard, but, I will stress again, civilized dialogue, the situation has been driven to a coup; the country has been plunged into chaos, and economic and social turmoil, into a civil war with massive casualties," the Russian leader said.
Putin stressed the ensuing "internal instability" in Ukraine had snowballed to affect international stability, and could potentially tip the balance of power. He also warned that crises in the countries that lie at the junctions of bigger nations' geopolitical interests tended to have a fallout effect on the rest of the world.
"The threat is represented not only by multinational conflicts, but also by the internal instability in separate states, especially in countries located at the intersections of geopolitical interests of large states or on the border of cultural, historic, economic, civilizational continents. Ukraine is one of the examples of such sorts of conflicts, affecting international power balance, and I think it is hardly the last one," Putin emphasized.
The Russian leader was speaking at the 11th conference of the Valdai Discussion Forum in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. Valdai unites leading Russian and international experts in history, politics, economics and international relations. Established in 2004, the club seeks to foster a global dialogue about Russia and to provide an independent, unbiased, scholarly analysis of political, economic and social processes in Russia and the world.