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Russia braces for tough economic times as sanctions hit

Russian money is flowing out of the country amid the worst clash between the Kremlin and the West since the Cold War.

Pro-Russian rebels stand at a security post on the outskirts of Donetsk. Credit: AP Photo/Sergei Grits

Russia's Economy Ministry is forecasting £60 billion in capital outflows for this year, up from £36 billion in 2013, but some say the figure has already been exceeded.

"Somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion of capital flight has taken place," US President Barack Obama said last week.

Russian economy is expected to stagnate in the light of tough economic sanction imposed on the country by the EU and the U.S.

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Russia: Sanctions 'will not achieve their goal'

The U.S. and EU sanctions imposed against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine will "not achieve their goal," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Mr Lavrov said the sanctions may result in Russia becoming more economically independent.

"(Sanctions) simply cannot achieve (their aim) ... I assure you, we will overcome any difficulties that may arise in certain areas of the economy, and maybe we will become more independent and more confident in our own strength.

– Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister

EU pushes sanctions against top Russian officials

The European Union has imposed new sanctions against 15 people, including high-profile Russian officials, amid the worsening crisis in eastern Ukraine.

The list includes Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and the chief of staff of Russia's armed forces Igor Sergun.

The sanctions are also targeting several separatist leaders.

Russia to impose 'symmetrical sanctions' on EU and US

Russia will impose symmetrical sanctions if the United States and European Union impose their own, Russia's Deputy Economy Minister Alexei Likhachev said.

He also said the ministry hoped that any sanctions would be political not economic.

"One would like to wish that if the European Union decides to impose any sanctions they will not restrain business cooperation," Likhachev said.

The US has imposed a visa ban on certain individuals and the EU announced a three-stage sanctions process against Russia last week.

The Organisation for Economic Development said it would "postpone activities related to Russia's accession" and strengthen cooperation with Ukraine.

Read: Would sanctions on Russia help to end the Ukraine crisis?

North Korea 'circumventing' UN sanctions

North Korea has developed sophisticated countermeasures to circumvent UN sanctions, including the suspected use of its embassies to facilitate the illegal trade in weapons, according to a United Nations report.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Kim Il Sung University of Politics. Credit: Reuters

North Korean embassies in Cuba and Singapore were suspected by the eight member UN panel of experts of facilitating the country's banned arms trade, including a shipment of fighter jets and missile parts that were seized in Panama last July.

The report also pointed to the use of more developed financial countermeasures used to mask the purchase of both banned and permitted goods.

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