Putin stakes no claim to superpower status

Russian president says that, at best, the economy is No. 5 in the world.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Jan. 12, 2016 at 8:20 AM
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SOCHI, Russia, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- As the national economy declines under pressure from sanctions and low oil prices, Russia's president said there are no claims to a role as a superpower for Russia.

Lower crude oil prices are hurting the economies of nations like Russia that depend on energy for revenue. The situation for Russia is compounded by economic sanctions imposed in response to the Kremlin's policies in Ukraine, sanctions that limit access to Western markets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with German newspaper Bild that Russia's economy is, at best, fifth in the world in terms of volume.

"We do not claim the role of a superpower," he said. "This role is very costly and it is meaningless."

In the first phase of his interview, Putin said the economy was weakened to the point that revenue outside the energy sector was now feeling pressured. The worst threat, however, was the harm caused by falling oil prices.

In November, the International Monetary Fund said there were "tentative" signs of recovery in Russia. The economy for 2016 is expected to contract by 0.6 percent, compared with a 3.8 percent decline in 2015.

The Kremlin expects GDP growth of around 0.7 percent for 2016. From September to October, GDP grew by about 0.3 percent, compared with about 0.1 percent from the previous one-month period.

"[The economy] may have moved down to a lower place at present taking into account the economic difficulties," Putin said. "But we are confident that we have very good development prospects and potential."

Inflation is running in the double digits, but the IMF said that, absent a dramatic decline in crude oil prices, the pressure from rising costs should decline during 2016.

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