Putin calls on KGB’s heirs to bust the West’s sanctions

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 8:21 AM

By Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called on the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, to help Russian companies bust Western sanctions and expand their clout into new markets around the world.

In an attempt to sink the Russian economy and force Putin to change course, the West imposed on Russia what it casts as the toughest ever sanctions shortly after the Kremlin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Putin, though, says Russia’s wartime economy has thrived despite the sanctions, with the manufacture of artillery shells far exceeding the West’s and the Russian economy growing 3.6% last year.

In a speech at the FSB spy service’s annual meeting at the Lubyanka in central Moscow following his landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential election, Putin said its spies should work with other agencies to increase the security of the banking and financial systems.

He told the FSB “to provide support to our companies that are actively developing despite the obstacles created for them and which are exploring new markets but are faced with openly hostile actions” from the West.

“Yes, they create temporary problems for us,” Putin said, adding that he had spoken to the government about how sanctions had affected some large projects. “But everything, of course, will be done anyway.”

The KGB, one of the most powerful institutions of the former Soviet Union with influence stretching far beyond the U.S.S.R.’s borders and far beyond simply spying and security, lost much of its power and influence when the Union fell in 1991.

But just eight years later, the KGB, by then the FSB, had one of its own – Putin – as master of the Kremlin.

Putin, appointed by Boris Yeltsin as acting president on the last day of 1999, won the Russian election on Sunday with a landslide, official results show.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)