Sanctions will not have big economic impact on Russia - economy minister

MOSCOW, March 15 Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:40am EDT

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MOSCOW, March 15 (Reuters) - Planned western sanctions against Russia after a secession referendum in the Ukrainian province of Crimea on Sunday are unlikely to have a major economic impact, Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said.

Investors in Russia are concerned about the effect of the measures that may be levied against Moscow in retaliation for Russian forces taking control of Crimea, which is holding the vote on whether to become part of Russia.

On Monday - March 17 - the United States and European Union are expected to unveil a list of Russian officials who will be subject to asset freezes and visa bans as Western nations attempt to step up pressure on Moscow.

"We need to be prepared for risks, they are possible after March 17, probably," Ulyukayev said on Saturday on the Rossiya 24 television channel, in comments reported by Interfax news agency.

"But it seems to me that the economic significance of these risks isn't so global. I don't expect, frankly speaking, any decisions that will put in doubt our trade turnover or the largest investment projects."

Ulyukayev said he expected Russian-U.S. economic cooperation to continue.

"Political waves come and go, but business co-operation continues. We are working out all positions that would enable Russia and the United States to return in the shortest time to the path of constructive trade-economic cooperation," he said.

Ulyukayev also said he did not expect a fall in the Russian stock market after the referendum in Crimea. "The markets have already priced in (the risks). They sell on rumours and buy on facts," he said.

Russian stock indexes have fallen about 15 percent this month as investors reacted to the international crisis around Ukraine and the threat of sanctions.

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