Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the barrage of Western sanctions imposed on Russia in connection with its invasion of neighboring Ukraine has not worked. Putin said on Monday that the West “expected to rapidly disrupt the financial and economic situation, stir up panic in the markets, the breakdown of the banking system and insufficiencies in stores”. He added that “the economic blitz strategy failed” and instead led to a “worsening of the economy in the West”. The Russian leader addressed a televised conference call with high-level economic officials. Western countries have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russian companies and the financial system since it sent troops to Ukraine on 24 February in what it refers to as a “special military operation”. Putin pointed out that “Russia has resisted unparalleled pressure”, claiming that the ruble strengthened and that the country recorded a historic trade surplus of 58 billion dollars during the first quarter of the year. Rather, he argued that the sanctions have backfired on the United States and its European allies, accelerating inflation and resulting in lower living standards. Putin admitted a sharp rise in consumer prices in Russia, saying they went up 17.5% year over year in April on a year, and instruct the government to index wages and other payments to mitigate the impact of inflation on incomes. Putin said that Russia should use its budget to support the economy and liquidity under conditions of contraction of lending activity, even if central bank rate reductions will make lending cheaper. He also said Russia should expedite the process of using national currencies in external trade under the new conditions. The World Bank predicts that the economy will contract by more than 11 percent this year.