Meeting with the best billionaires and the business elite of Russia had today the Russian president, Vladimir Putin within the framework of the annual conference of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. This meeting is being held for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began.

The Russian leader pointed out that the country now has more opportunities than before Western sanctions and urged them to invest in new technology, manufacturing facilities and businesses to help Russia overcome what he said were Western efforts to destroy its economy, as reported by Reuters.

“Huge opportunities are opening up in the country for almost every sector”Vladimir Putin said, referring to the resilience of the Russian economy.

He went on to point out that those who remained in Russia proved to be “smarter” compared to those who left the country after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Those who stayed here and actually work turned out to be smarter, more energetic, more efficient than those who left and give advice” he said.

It is recalled that many Russian oligarchs have been “hit” by Western sanctions since last February, with Vladimir Putin pointing out once again that he had no choice but to send his forces to Ukraine.

Official data on the performance of the Russian economy showed it shrank 2.1% last year – less than expected after nearly a year of tough Western sanctions. However, rising spending and falling revenues have led to a budget deficit of $34 billion, according to the finance ministry.