Medvedev compares annexation of Crimea to return of Hong Kong to China

For many Russians, last year’s annexation of Crimea represented “the restoration of historic justice” and was of equal significance to the fall of the Berlin Wall or the return of Hong Kong to China, a defiant but realistic Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the State Duma today as he spelt out the ongoing  repercussions of Western sanctions. “According to the estimates of some foreign experts, Russia has suffered losses of €25bn, or 1.5% of GDP,” he said. Russia’s economy had contracted by around 2% in the first quarter, he estimated, but  pointed out that the economic situation could have been far worse and was beginning to stabilise.
He went on  to give warning, however,  that nobody should be under any illusions about the difficulties Russia was facing, a situation that had been exacerbated by the collapse in international oil prices and several “domestic problems” that the government had not been able to solve. “If external pressures intensify and oil prices remain at extremely low levels for  an extended period of time, we will have to adapt to a new economic reality,” he said. “I am convinced that we will be able to live with such a reality. Recent  experience shows  that we have learned how to do this.”
A key objective was to stabilise the  foreign exchange rate, he added. “Our currency is strengthening now, which is not bad for a number of sectors of the economy. But that also lowers our exporting capabilities to some extent, so we are interested in the rouble exchange rate being fully predictable.”