Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday vowed to overcome the “colossal” high-tech problems his country is facing due to the onset of unprecedented Western sanctions over Ukraine.
The Kremlin chief said the West had deployed sanctions to cut off Russia from high-tech products in order to contain the country’s development.
He said that Russia would overcome “any difficulties” if it makes high tech a major focus of its development.
“This is a huge challenge for our country,” he told a meeting on the country’s strategic development.
“Realising the colossal amount of difficulties we are facing, we will look for new solutions in an energetic and competent manner.”
He said Russia would also use “sovereign” technology and products of domestic innovative companies.
Many top tech companies including Apple, Microsoft and Intel suspended their operations in Russia, or left the country altogether, after Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, leaving Russia without any domestic alternatives.
Putin said that many fast-growing Russian companies such as online retailer Ozon or technology company Yandex have been cut off from Western financing because of the sanctions.
He said Russia must quickly create alternatives so that such companies can attract the necessary financing at home and continue their development.
“I very much look forward to detailed proposals from both the finance ministry and the Bank of Russia,” Putin added.
Putin has been defiant in the face of Western sanctions, insisting that the Russian economy will emerge stronger, and pointing to “chaotic measures” in Europe that have boosted global energy prices.
But Russia has been heavily reliant on imports of everything from manufacturing equipment to consumer goods, and economists believe the worst effects of the sanctions are still to come.
– Largest ever fine –
At the meeting Putin stressed that major state corporations which he said do not know what to do with “billions of dollars” in accumulated resources should invest in domestic high-tech firms.
He also used the occasion to criticise industrial conglomerate Rostec, saying that until now it has demonstrated “modest results”.
“A project to develop the microelectronic industry had to be completely rebooted last year,” he said, also mentioning 5G networks as another problematic area.
At the same meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko said that the Russian IT sector would overcome the adverse consequences of the sanctions in about three to five years.
Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, for his part proposed the creation of funds involving state companies such as oil pipeline monopoly Transneft that could invest in the high-tech sector.
In 2021, Putin complained of the growing influence of foreign tech companies, which he said were competing with sovereign states.
Russia has for months been tightening controls over US-based tech companies, accusing them of interfering in the country’s internal affairs and supporting the opposition.
On Monday, a Moscow court fined Google 21 billion rubles ($360 million) for failing to remove content concerning Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. It is the largest fine ever imposed on an IT company in Russia, experts said.