West scored own goal in sanctions against Moscow: Putin

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MOSCOW
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Western countries had scored an own goal by imposing sanctions against Russia over Ukraine which he said had led to a “deterioration of the economy in the West”.
Speaking on the state of Russia’s domestic economy, Putin said that inflation was stabilising and that retail demand in the country had normalised.
Western countries have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia’s corporate and financial system since it sent troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a “special military operation”.
Putin also said Russia should use its budget to support the economy and liquidity in conditions of contracting lending activity even though the central bank’s rate cuts will make lending cheaper.
Speaking to top government officials by a video-link, he said Russia should speed up the process of using national currencies in foreign trade under the new conditions.
Meanwhile, Russia plans to take legal action against the blocking of gold, foreign exchange and assets belonging to Russian citizens, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said on Monday, adding that such a step would need to be painstakingly thought through and legally justified.
Foreign sanctions have frozen about $300 billion of about $640bn that Russia had in its gold and forex reserves when it launched what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine on February 24.
Russian troops on Monday captured the east Ukraine town of Kreminna, local authorities said, as Kyiv’s armed forces launched salvos on Russian forces in the nearby settlement of Rubizhne.
“There was a major attack in the night” from Sunday to Monday in Kreminna, the Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a statement on social media. “The Russian army has already entered there, with a huge amount of military hardware … Our defenders have retreated to new positions,” he added.
Kreminna, with a pre-war population of nearly 20,000 people is around 50 kilometres northeast of Kramatorsk, the region’s administrative centre, and is a strategic target for invading Russian forces.
Ukraine said on Monday it was stopping civilian convoys out of frontline towns and cities in the east of the country for a second day in a row, claiming Russian forces blocked and shelled ways out.
“Today, April 18, there will be no humanitarian corridors. In violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian occupiers have not stopped blocking and shelling humanitarian routes,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on social media.