European and Russian leaders were both defiant in the face of economic tensions on 18 December, with EU leaders announcing new sanctions on Crimea and Russian President Vladimir Putin warning his country of two years of recession.
During an annual press conference that “usually serves as an arena for the president’s populist showmanship”, writes the Financial Times, Putin “faced more hard-hitting questioning from the usually loyal crowd, particularly on the economy”. But the financial daily emphasises Putin placed responsibility for the country’s woes elsewhere —
He claimed that a period of economic hardship was the price Russia would have to pay to maintain its independence in the face of western aggression, repeatedly blaming the rouble’s plunge and a looming recession on “external factors”.
At a Council of the European Union summit in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to maintain sanctions until Putin “makes major concessions” in Ukraine, writes EUobserver. The EU’s leaders also agreed to “ban almost all forms of business co-operation with Crimea” as of 20 December. According to the site, —
Given Russia’s financial crisis and that it has to supply Crimea by sea, it’s likely to make the region, which used to live on Ukrainian subsidies, into an economic headache.