Russia's Medvedev says sanctions will not hurt

MOSCOW Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:31pm EDT

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chairs a government meeting in Moscow March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Ekaterina Shtukina/RIA Novosti/Pool

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chairs a government meeting in Moscow March 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Ekaterina Shtukina/RIA Novosti/Pool

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shrugged off sanctions over Moscow's annexation of Crimea, saying even if the West imposes more punitive measures, companies that want to work in Russia will not be deterred, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

"Everything will be fine," Medvedev was quoted as saying when asked how cooperation with foreign oil and gas companies would be affected if Western nations broaden sanctions against Russia.

"Those who want to work with us in any area, whether it is science, production, investment in our economy - they aren't going anywhere, because this is a completely normal process," he was quoted as saying.

If companies do pull out, he said, "it means they didn't really want" to work in Russia in the first place, Interfax quoted him as saying at a forum on innovation in the oil-producing Tatarstan region.

The United States and European Union have slapped visa bans and asset freezes on a few dozen Russian officials and lawmakers as punishment for what they say is Moscow's illegal seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region on the Black Sea.

They are threatening to impose much wider sanctions, potentially affecting whole economic sectors, if Russia seeks to take more Ukrainian territory or makes other aggressive moves.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alison Williams)

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