Medvedev rails against sanctions and McLaren report in TV interview

“The sanctions are hurting everyone, but it was not us who started this wave."

“The sanctions are hurting everyone, but it was not us who started this wave."

On Dec. 15, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met with several of Russia’s main TV channels (Channel One, NTV, Rossiya, RBK and Dozhd TV) for a traditional end-of-year interview. We have selected key quotes from the conversation, which included discussion of defense spending, the McLaren report and the doping scandal, and the arrest of Economics Minister Alexei Ulyukayev.

On Russia's defense budget

“Russia remains the world's second largest arms exporter after the U.S., we earn $17 billion [per year] on this. We all may be wishing for peace, but there is demand for weaponry in the world, and Russia is working on this.”

“We do understand that this is not just for the sake of the Defense Ministry, this is for the benefit of the entire country. We understand what world we live in. I think our people appreciate that the situation is stable now, that our borders are protected, that things similar to those in the Far East and in Europe are not taking place here.”

On U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his administration

“We believe the U.S. to be to blame for the current degradation of our relationship. This was not our aim. There were fairly good preconditions for something to be preserved for the future, but the foundation has been ruined.”

“In any case we will keep in contact on issues of international security. However, in the economic sphere we are not necessarily partners. Our trade with the U.S. stands at $25-30 billion, which is an insignificant sum.”

“Look at what happened in the U.S. They now have as their leader a person who has not spent a single day in politics. The main thing is that these people are devoid of inborn anti-Russian stereotypes. These people are starting everything from scratch, which is not a bad thing.”

On corruption and the arrest of a federal minister

“The arrest of Alexei Ulyukayev, a former minister [of economic development], is an extremely sad development, it is beyond my comprehension of what can happen to a minister.”

“This has nothing to do with a spontaneous campaign, with someone's desire to gain popularity ahead of elections. No matter what the season, public servants are held accountable regardless, and this course will be continued.”

On the doping scandal

“I still cannot comprehend who Mr. [Prof. Richard] McLaren is, and what his legal status is. Look at what this gentleman says in his latest report: 'I am completely confident that [former Russian Sports Minister Vitaly] Mutko was involved in the use of doping.’ Then, several minutes later, he says: 'I have no evidence to support this.’ What is this?”

“Statements to the effect that Russia is running a state doping program are laughable. This is not true.”

“Why is it only now that the [2017] World Bobsleigh Championship has suddenly been moved [from the Russian winter resort of Sochi]? They are in their right to do so, but why now, exactly? They say the atmosphere has changed? Nonsense, what about the atmosphere? 

“There is a contract between our bobsleigh federation and the international one. I have checked, and it does not envisage any serious consequences [for moving the championship]. I want to say that contracts need to be drawn up so that the parties would think twice before breaching their contractual obligations in such a way.”

On sanctions against Russia

“This is a bad story and certainly needs to be put an end to.”

“The sanctions are hurting everyone, but it was not us who started this wave. At some point our partners decided that sanctions could be used in order to induce Russia to a certain position. This method has been resorted to more than once in the past, and never resulted in anything.”

“In the next several years we will reach 100 percent of our demands on the food market, and European countries, especially the Baltic states, will suffer great losses from this.”

Read more: Will Washington lift sanctions against Russia in 2017?

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