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PETROZAVODSK, Russia, April 28 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia will be able to replace any defence industry imports lost due to the Ukraine crisis with its own products.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that Washington would target some high tech exports to Russia as part of new sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine, where the West says Russia is fomenting separatist unrest.
Russia is the world’s second largest arms exporter and its defence industry has close ties with that of neighbouring fellow former Soviet republic Ukraine.
Putin told lawmakers he believed the motive behind any Western sanctions targeting the Russian defence sector was to undermine Russia’s efforts to compensate for a reduction in imports from Ukraine.
“We will do it anyway. It’s only a matter of time and money. Well, it will be a bit more expensive and will take a bit longer. But we will live through this and move on,” he said.
Putin also said the state budget could bear the additional burden, adding it would take up to 2 1/2 years to switch fully to domestic manufacturing.
He also reiterated an earlier warning that any break in cooperation with Moscow would be “critical” for Ukraine’s defence sector, which is closely tied to that of Russia. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, writing by Steve Gutterman and Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Nigel Stephenson)