Oligarch Oleg Deripaska told the FT he was surprised at Russia’s economic resilience.
Deripaska had said in March that sanctions-hit Russia may run out of money next year.
Deripaska, who is worth $2.3 billion, said demand from the global south is supporting Russia’s economy.
Russia’s economy appears to be chugging along 19 months into its war with Ukraine, baffling analysts and surprising at least one member of the Russian elite.
In an interview with the Financial Times published Monday, oligarch Oleg Deripaska seemed astonished by Russia’s economic resilience.
“I was surprised that private business would be so flexible. I was more or less sure that up to 30% of the economy would collapse, but it was way less,” said Deripaska, the founder of Rusal, a major aluminum producer.
It’s an about-turn for Deripaska, who, in March, said sanctions-hit Russia may run out of money next year.
Despite sweeping sanctions, Russia’s wartime economy is getting a boost from defense and government spending, the New York Times reported in July.
Even Russia is bullish about its economy. Anton Siluanov, the country’s finance minister, told the CGTV channel last month he expects the Russian economy to grow by at least 2.5% this year.
However, the International Monetary Fund in July put Russia’s growth outlook at 1.5% this year — up from its previous forecast of 0.7% in April. Some analysts have criticized the IMF’s forecasts as they take into account Russia’s own projections in their predictions.
“Yes, there is war spending and all this kind of subsidies and government support, but still, it’s a surprisingly low slowdown,” Deripaska told the FT. The tycoon — worth $2.3 billion as of Monday — has been sanctioned by the US and the European Union.
“The private economy found its way to operate and to do so successfully,” Deripaska added.
Russia’s economy has held up thanks to demand from countries in the global south for the country’s vast resources, the oligarch told the FT. Russia is a major producer of commodities, including oil, natural gas, wheat, and metals.
“Out of the next billion people who’re about to be born, 70% will be in this region,” Deripaska told the FT. “Let’s face reality. They want development, they need Russian resources, Russian solutions, trade with Russia.”
Deripaska also weighed in on the sweeping sanctions against Russia in his assessment of their impact, saying the trade restrictions are regressive.
“It’s really over when you can use sanction, it’s a kind of instrument of the 19th century. We can’t see that it would be efficient in the 21st century,” Deripaska told the FT.
Deripaska did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via his foundation outside regular business hours.
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