Putin scoffs at Westerners being offered turnips instead of tomatoes

The Russian president appeared to be referring to remarks by the UK farm minister who said Britons struggling to get hold of imported tomatoes could consider turnips

Published : 17 March 2023, 09:07 AM
Updated : 17 March 2023, 09:07 AM

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday scoffed at Westerners being offered turnips to eat while their governments failed to bring Russia's economy to its knees with sanctions.

In a speech to business leaders, Putin said Western analysts had prophesied that Russia's store shelves would empty and services collapse as a result of the sanctions, which were imposed in response to his invasion of Ukraine.

"Life had other ideas," he said. "The Western countries themselves ran into all the same problems. It's got to the point where their leaders suggest that citizens switch to turnips instead of lettuce or tomatoes."

Putin appeared to be referring to remarks by British farm minister Therese Coffey, who said last month that Britons struggling to get hold of imported tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in supermarkets could consider more seasonal, home-grown turnips.

Consumers in most other parts of Western Europe did not suffer the same shortages, which were caused by abnormally cold weather disrupting harvests in southern Europe and north Africa.

While Russia's 2% economic contraction last year defied most early forecasts, analysts say it will be years before it regains its 2021 size, and longer until it returns to its previous growth path.

While praising Russia's resilience, Putin also acknowledged risks to the economy and told business leaders to put patriotism before profit.