Russian President Vladimir Putin had some terse words for the United States and Great Britain Sunday when asked by journalists about threatened sanctions against his country. The West can “screw themselves,” he said in an uncharacteristic outburst, according to the Moscow Times.
Putin downplayed the effects of previous sanctions on food imports and said that the sanctions have pushed Russian farmers to improve their output. He also said that new sanctions wouldn't alter Russia's plans.
“Yes, we have problems on vegetables, especially for fruit, but we knew it was going to happen. There has been a definite increase in price in the domestic market,” Putin said. “But [sanctions] have given a chance to domestic producers with the support of the state.”
Putin’s break in statesmanship and dismissal of the West have since been wiped from the official transcript from the event.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson threatened Russia earlier that day with sanctions and other measures as Russia continues a siege on eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo. More than 275,000 civilians in the city have endured daily bombing raids and alleged gas attacks that have been blamed on Russian forces and forces allied with the Russians. U.S. and UK forces have long been calling for a peaceful resolution between rebel forces and the administration of Syrian President Bashir al Assad, who is supported by Russia.
“I think the most powerful weapon we have at the moment is our ability to make President Putin and the Russians feel the consequences of what they are doing,” Johnson said.
As for the United States, Kerry said that President Barack Obama hasn’t taken any strategies or options off the table with regard to the ongoing conflict in Syria. Increased military involvement was unlikely at the moment, Kerry said, although the U.S. is considering delivering weapons to rebels and plans on continued military strikes on the Assad regime.
Current sanctions have certainly had an impact on Russia and companies that do business there. For instance, the oil giant Exxon — which has been doing business in Russia since the 1990s — has lost $1 billion. The sanctions were put into place by the U.S. and the European Union after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.