MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Western sanctions have given Russia the stimulus to work more actively with Asia, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday.
"From the economic point of view, of course, all of these sanctions that were imposed on us gave us stimulus to cooperate more actively with Asian countries. Well, thanks a lot to those countries that made those sanctions. I’m being completely honest," Medvedev said during Russian press congress in Moscow.
Medvedev’s statement came ahead of EU summit in Brussels scheduled for June 25-26, where the European leaders are expected to make a final decision on prolongation of anti-Russia sanctions, which expire in July.
Dmitry Medvedev added that at an earlier meeting with Russian businessmen he had advised them to develop relations with Asia due to Western sanctions.
"Since the West is not expecting us, not giving [investing] any money and [Western] companies aren’t allowed in, we’ll start developing our relations with companies in the East and we’re ready for it."
Following the deterioration of Russia’s relations with the West over the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, Moscow boosted cooperation with Asian, Latin American and Arab countries, including in economic and defense sectors.