"Strengthening our country and looking at what is happening in the world, in other countries, I want to say to those who are still waiting for the gradual demise of Russia: in this case, we are only worried about one thing — how not to catch a cold at your funeral", Putin said on Thursday at a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club.
Russian President Vladimir Putin added that he was proud of Russia and its citizens, who were ready to do everything possible to help each other during the difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"During the hardest moments of the pandemic, I've felt and, frankly speaking, is still feeling proud of Russia, our citizens and their readiness to do everything possible for each other, and, of course, first and foremost, our doctors, nurses and paramedics — of everyone, without any exceptions, who are pillars of our health care system", President said at a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club.
The Russian leader noted as well, that while the international community was trying to mobilise its efforts and forces to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, more could have been done.
"In confronting this [COVID-19] threat, the international community is trying to take certain actions for its mobilization, and some things are already being done together. However, I want to say right away that not everything that is needed [is being done] in the face of such a colossal common challenge", the president said.
Russia has managed to find a balance between putting the lives and health of citizens first during the coronavirus pandemic and simultaneously safeguarding the economy from its shocks, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"Life and health or citizens, undoubtedly, come first. Naturally, life and health are linked to the health care systems, which should be strongly supported by the federal and other budgets. Economy should be functioning for revenues to ... the state budget to grow. Everything is so interconnected. It is pivotal to strike a balance. I think that we have managed to strike this balance from the very beginning", the president said at the Valdai Discussion Club.
At the same time, Russian President slammed the economic sanctions imposed by the West on countries that were in dire epidemiological situation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Russia has called on other nations at the UN to lift all economic [sanctions], at least temporarily, on humanitarian grounds. I am not talking about the sanctions on Russia — I don't care, we will survive, — but there are many other countries that have struggled and are still struggling from the coronavirus infections and they do not even need external assistance, but simply lifting of those restrictions, at least in the humanitarian sphere, on medical supplies, loans, equipment and technology transfer. Those are purely humanitarian issues, are not they? But no restrictions have been lifted for reasons that have nothing to do with humanitarian issues", Putin stressed.
To date, more than 41.3 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 1.13 million fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The Valdai Discussion Club is held in Moscow from 20 to 22 October. This year's theme is "Pandemic lessons and new agenda: "The Lessons of the Pandemic and the New Agenda: How to Turn the World Crisis Into an Opportunity for the World".