(MENAFN - Daily Outlook Afghanistan) MOSCOW - Russiacan't rely on the West or China if it wants to become a world-leading economy,construction tycoon Arkady Rotenberg – often described as one of VladimirPutin's closest confidantes – told RT's Sophie Shevardnadze.
'In the past, wecould afford to be idle and put things off or not do them at all, but now weneed to do them – and fast. If we start falling behind, if we slow down, we'llfall behind thoroughly and completely, so we have to be proactive all thetime, he said during a 30-minute interview on SophieCo. 'Of course, it wouldbe easier without sanctions, no question about it.
'We've pulledthrough before, even though no one in the West thought we would actually doit, Rotenberg said, in reference to Russia's ability to stay competitive inthe arms industry.
Rotenberg, 67, whose net worth is estimated at $2.6 billion by Forbes,was among the first wave of officials targeted by US and EU sanctions afterCrimea rejoined Russia in 2014, due to his links to Vladimir Putin. The two menhave known each other since they were children at the same judo club in whatwas then Leningrad. Rotenberg spent years waging a so-far-futileinternational legal battle against the travel and business restrictions – whichhe describes as groundless and 'unjust but now views them as a blessing indisguise, saying that Russia 'moving away from a raw-exports role in the worldeconomy.
'Russians are smartenough, I think. We've never been lacking in mathematicians, softwareengineers, physicists or anyone else for that matter, so we have what it takesto develop, he said, but added that the population's 'mentality has preventedthe country from achieving its potential. He called for something to inspireand unify people.
As an example ofwhat can be collectively achieved, Rotenberg cites the project he isoverseeing, the 18km Kerch Strait Bridge between mainland Russia and Crimea,the construction of which he likens to 'birthing a baby that has given himyears of sleepless nights.
Rotenberg alsoadmitted that he has given thought to what awaits both Russia and himself afterPutin's term in office runs out in five years, though he is sure that at leastone thing will not change – the relationship between the two men.
'We've been friends,and we will remain friends no matter what. Our friendship has stood the test oftime – over 50 years. (RT)