Sergei Lavrov admits Russia was surprised by the scale of Western sanctions – POLITICO

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Wednesday “no one could have predicted” that Western sanctions would be aimed at the country’s central bank, in what was the Kremlin’s first major admission that Moscow was caught unawares by the transatlantic response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“When the central bank’s reserves were frozen, none of those who were making predictions would have guessed what sanctions the West might impose,” Moscow’s top diplomat told students and staff at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, while speaking move which the West sharply criticized as “theft”.

“Russia must be made to never again depend on supplies from abroad,” he said calledbut added that Moscow is “ready” to cooperate with the West in the future “if they want to”.

Within days of Putin’s deadly invasion, which began on February 24, the EU, US, UK and Canada imposed sweeping and coordinated sanctions freezing the Bank of Russia’s foreign deposits. China holds most of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, although France, Germany and the United Kingdom combined held more than a quarter in 2021. according to to the data research company Statista.

The move rendered the central bank virtually unable to access about half of its $630 billion in gold and foreign exchange reserves to mitigate the impact of other sanctions, and – in addition to other measures such as severing Russian banks from SWIFT – caused a steep fall in the value of the ruble. Sergei Lavrov admits Russia was surprised by the scale of Western sanctions - POLITICO

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