Putin has been seen as facing pressure within Russia but from an even more bellicose and hardline faction


  • Putin said the sanctions on Russian oligarchs are the consequences for leaving the country amid the Ukraine war
  • He also slammed Western allies for their unsuccessful military and economic 'aggression' against Russia
  • Russian oligarchs lost $95 billion in 2022 due to Western sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday slammed Russian oligarchs living abroad in his annual speech and mocked them for being included in sanctions imposed by the West amid the war in Ukraine.

In his address to Russia's parliament, Putin said the waves of sanctions and asset freezes placed on oligarchs serve as the consequences for establishing Western relationships and becoming traitors to the Russian state by leaving the country following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Instead of creating employment here, this capital was spent buying elite real-estate, yachts," he was quoted as saying by CNBC. "Some came to Russia, but the first wave was spent on consuming Western goods.…The latest events have demonstrated that the West was just a ghost in terms of being a safe haven. Those who saw Russia as just a source of income and were planning to live abroad, they saw that they just got robbed in the West."

In addition to slamming Russian oligarchs, Putin also took a swipe at Western allies, claiming they are not achieving success in their military and economic "aggression" against Moscow and that they are just "punishing" themselves with the sanctions placed on Russia.

"The initiators of the sanctions are punishing themselves. They provoked a growth of prices in their own countries, closures of factories, collapse of energy sector. They are telling their citizens it's the Russians who are to blame," he said.

Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Since then, the United States and other Western countries have imposed waves of sanctions targeting Russian entities and oligarchs.

Sanctions placed on the oligarchs themselves have already led to $95 billion in losses last year. Roman Abramovich, the former Chelsea FC owner, suffered the biggest loss, with the sanctions cutting his fortune by 57% to $7.8 billion, according to The Guardian and the Bloomberg billionaires index.

Western sanctions have also led to several high-profile seizures in 2022, including Andrey Melnichenko's $300 million megayacht and a $325 million megayacht whose ownership is in dispute.

Some oligarchs have been vocal against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, causing a rift with Putin. Several oligarchs have since been found dead over the course of the nearly 12-month war, including Russian real estate tycoon Dmitry Zelenov in December last year.

Russia's President Putin takes part in an event marking Gazprom's 30th anniversary, via video link outside Moscow