Russian President Vladimir Putin is not worried about Western sanctions — quite the opposite, in fact.
Faced with the prospect of a 12th round of EU sanctions — which could include trade in anything from diamonds to needles — the Russian leader brushed off the plan as ridiculous and took a jab at Europe and its crawling bedbug problem.
“Perhaps the less junk, the better. There is less of a chance of bedbugs coming here from large European cities,” Putin joked on Wednesday, reported Russian state-run news agency TASS.
Several European cities, including Paris, are battling an infestation of bedbugs in recent months. The tiny insects have swarmed public transport, raising alarm among residents and public officials, and sending cities into a frenzy.
Last month, French intelligence even blamed Russian propaganda for stoking fears about the bedbugs by posting fake articles that looked like they were written by reputable French newspapers.
Putin’s comment comes as the EU is preparing a new round of sanctions against Russia, which is likely to include export restrictions on welding machines, chemicals and diamonds, among other items. According to EUobserver, Lithuania has proposed a plan which also includes the ban of exports of “nails, tacks, drawing pins” and “sewing needles, knitting needles.”
Putin — whose full-scale invasion of Ukraine is heading toward the two-year mark — has ridiculed the proposal, saying that Western officials “are now simply reaching the point of absurdity in their fantasies.”