Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) meets with longtime confidante Andrei Kostin in Sochi on August 13, 2009. (AFP PHOTO / RIA NOVOSTI / ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Getty Images)
A top Russian banker and close personal confidante to President Vladimir Putin has sent a strong message to the West.
Vladimir Putin does not buy the notion that tough economic sanctions, imposed on Russia by US and its European allies, are merely a punishment for Russia’s policies toward Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea, and its support of separatist fighters in the East Ukraine. Earlier today, speaking to the representatives of the Federal Assembly in Kremlin, he claimed that “the crisis in Ukraine was just a formal pretext for sanctions.” He was confident that “If all this had never happened, any other excuse would have been created” as a result of the “policy of containment [of Russia] which was invented not yesterday, but has been…
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