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U.S. Sanctions Will Unite Russian Elite, Putin Aide Says

U.S. sanctions will unite Russia’s elite and won’t “significantly” affect its economy, said Andrei Belousov, an economic aide for President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. authorities fail to realize that sanctions have unified the Russian elite “the most in 10 to 15 years,” Belousov told reporters in the northwestern town of Petrozavodsk. Russia won’t let sanctions go unanswered, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax, without elaborating on how Russia might seek to retaliate.

U.S. sanctions imposed today for Russian actions in Ukraine are aimed at seven Russian officials, including OAO Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin, and 17 companies linked to Putin’s inner circle. The European Union said it’s adding 15 names to its list of penalized individuals.

“The more sanctions there will be, the more consolidated our elite will become,” Belousov said. “This is the main effect of sanctions now. It is unlikely that the short-term effects, in terms of this year, would be serious” for the ruble.

Putin told reporters in St. Petersburg on April 24 that “sanctions are not effective in the contemporary world and are not bringing the desired outcome.”

Standard & Poor’s lowered Russia’s sovereign-debt rating to the lowest investment grade on April 25, saying further downgrades are possible if economic growth deteriorates and the conflict in Ukraine sparks wider sanctions. The move won’t significantly change investor behavior, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said at the time.

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