French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned on Tuesday that Westerners “are going to cause the collapse of the Russian economy” and said he was sure that the sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine are being effective.
In an interview with public radio station France Info, Le Maire stressed that the international measures to freeze Russian assets in total are going to affect about one trillion euros.
“We are going to wage an all-out economic and financial war on Russia” and “the Russian people will also pay the consequences,” said the French minister, who considered that the sanctions are already beginning to produce effects.
In this sense, he indicated that the ruble has depreciated by 30 %, that the Central Bank of Russia has had to double its interest rates to 20 %, which makes financing for companies more expensive, and that its foreign currency reserves are melting “like snow in the sun”.
He warned that work is underway for “if necessary” a tightening of sanctions, an issue to be discussed this afternoon at a videoconference meeting of G7 finance ministers and tomorrow at another of those of the European Union: “Together we have considerable power to act”.
On the possibility of ceasing to buy Russian oil and gas, which are Russia’s main sources of income, he acknowledged that “it is very complicated for a number of European countries.”
Le Maire stated that if it were up to France alone, which is only 20% dependent on Russian gas, “we would probably have gone further,” but there are other central and eastern European countries that are 100% dependent.
On this point, he acknowledged that the priority is to “maintain the unity” of Europeans, but in any case he insisted that with the package of international sanctions “it is Russia that is going to suffer, not Europe”, where the expected consequence is “a small price increase”.