World Bulletin/News Desk
Western sanctions will galvanise Russia into using the rouble as a currency for international trade, the country's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview published on Saturday.
"Trading for roubles - this is a definite priority," Medvedev said. "This, in fact, should ultimately move the rouble from the cohort of freely convertible currencies into the ranks of reserve currencies."
He was speaking in an interview recorded for the television programme "Vesti on Saturday with Sergey Brilev", shown on the Rossiya channel and published on the government's website.
In recent weeks officials have said the government is considering making it obligatory for state-owned companies to receive payment for key exports in roubles, rather than in dollars as at present.
EU leaders meet next week to discuss steps that could be taken to target broader sectors of the Russian economy if Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday is disrupted. The United States has also threatened sanctions that could target broad sectors such as energy, banking and mining.
Russia has long aspired to boosting the international status of the rouble, hoping that it will eventually become a currency widely held in governments' foreign exchange reserves, similar to the dollar and euro.
Medvedev referred to such reserve currencies as "the top league".
"Of course, the more we sell, for example, our products, including oil, gas, machine-building, defence products for roubles, the more we will encourage such a quality for our currency."
Commenting on the impact of Western sanctions more broadly, Medvedev played down their immediate negative consequences.
"At present the effect of sanctions on the Russian economy is absolutely minimal, if you can talk about any effect at all," he said.
His assessment contrasts with that of many analysts, who say the sanctions - and in particular the threat of further sanctions - have encouraged massive capital outflows, leading to slumping investment and stagnant economic growth.
Medvedev's comments also contrast with those of President Vladmir Putin, who has said Western sanctions are having a real impact on Russian business and limiting their access to funding.
So far Western sanctions have largely targeted individual officials, as well as select companies linked either to Crimea or to President Vladimir Putin's close personal associates.
Medvedev admitted that sectoral sanctions could be very damaging. "This means that a whole range of export possibilities of Russia will be threatened," he said.
A charity fashion bazaar sets the change in stereotype of Russia's Muslim population. Moscow has Russia's largest Muslim population of 1.5 mn Muslims, making it Europe's largest Muslim city.
Clinton's call to end the US embargo on Cuba makes her fall in line with US President Barack Obama.
Àmama Mbabazi was sacked from his prime ministerial post last year in an evolving power struggle and has been one of the country's most popular and skilled politicians.
Clashes come against backdrop of Palestinian baby’s murder near Nablus
A source close to the European Commission has said that the Southern Gas Corridor could provide a diverse market for Azeribaijan's gas market.
Political functions and watchdog role of EU’s executive arm needs rebalancing, Berlin argues
A British inquiry has been told by Alexander Litvinenko's widow that Russian President Putin had persoally ordered the death of her husband
Iraqi forces retaken several areas west of Ramadi that had fallen into the hands of ISIL.
Japanese Isuzu company has obtained 8 percent in Samarkand Automobile factory LLC
Second World Crimean Tatars Congress to be held in Ankara
A new test train that will travel from Azerbaijan to Turkey has been launched by the Turkish President in a Chinese-Turkish business forum in Beijing.
Dutch, Ukrainian PMs announce they will continue working on bringing responsible to justice
The UK has expressed "deep concern" over the plans by Israel to expand settlements on Palestinian lands.
Only men over 50 and women were allowed to enter mosque after undergoing rigorous inspection
Nine US marines were detained and then expelled from Austria for failing to declare M16 assault rifles and pistols.