The European Union's sanctions against Russia have done more economic damage to the bloc than to his country over the past five years, Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday. "Western restrictions cost Russia $50 billion in missed opportunities since 2014, whereas the European Union $240 billion," Putin said during his annual call-in show. The sanctions have cost the United States about $17 billion, Putin said in his annual televised question and answer session.
The EU slapped sanctions on Russia after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and went on to support rebels fighting Kiev troops in the east of the country. The EU's economic sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine include curbs on Russian energy, defense and financial sectors and are currently in place until the end of July.
The show, "Direct Line with Vladimir Putin," usually lasts several hours and tends to focus on topical domestic issues, with the head of state consulting with senior officials to answer some questions. About 1.5 million questions had been submitted by the start of the show, an announcer said. Questions could be submitted in writing or via a direct call until the end of the show. Last year, Putin answered 79 questions in 4 hours and 20 minutes. More than a million questions had been reported submitted for that show.