UPDATE2: US’s tougher sanctions may backlash at US firms in Russia
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DAVOS, Jan 23 (PRIME) -- A possible toughening of sanctions by Washington could backlash as the U.S. companies working on the Russian market may lose billions of U.S. dollars, Russian Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov told reporters on Tuesday.
“We oppose such sanction manifestations. We see Europe incurring multi-billion losses in euros from all these games. Now a possible worsening of the sanction stories by the U.S. could potentially hit the companies that earn on our market hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars,” Nikiforov said.
“We do not see any practical sense in it. The crucial thing is that it’s a meaningless story from the point of view of reasons behind these sanctions. We don’t understand who wanted to achieve what with such tools besides bringing losses on their companies that have been successfully working on our market for many years.”
Russian software products can fully replace Microsoft’s software, and the U.S. company may lose billions of dollars because of restrictions on the purchase of its programs by the Russian companies from the Washington-sanctioned list, the minister said.
Mass media reported on Monday that two official local distributors of Microsoft, Merlion and RRC, restricted sales of its products to more than 200 Russian companies because of the sanctions.
“I believe that Russian software can fully replace (the U.S. analogues). It will certainly involve further investment and work. But such examples of politically motivated sanctions will, in the first place, hit the U.S. economy itself,” Nikiforov said.
“It could all end up in Microsoft’s losing almost the whole market worth several billions of dollars from the point of view of corporate and state elements in our country.”
Apart from software licenses, the U.S. giant also provides other services in Russia, he said.
Russia will not impose any restrictions on Microsoft, the minister said. “Everyone says that they will (participate) in some sanction solutions. Frankly speaking, I would not like to react to any of these information speculations. We should wait for decisions themselves.”
Internet ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev said that the Russian software market actively evolves, but it needs state support to compete with Microsoft.
“I know only one Russian company able to rival Microsoft’s Office, it is MyOffice, which offers the products alternative to Microsoft’s ones for employees. But I do not know any company able to fully replace the product range of Microsoft,” the ombudsman said.
Meanwhile, German Klimenko, a presidential advisor for the Internet, said Russia has enough software products to replace Microsoft.
“The process of import substitution has been on in Russia for a while. We have a register of local software, counting more than 4,000 products. We have one service, the Federal Bailiffs Service, which has fully switched to operating system GosLinux from Microsoft. I’ve recently been to Crimea…They made colossal work under the sanctions, and they do not have Microsoft, naturally. The Agriculture Ministry is going to switch to products of Red Soft this year. It proves that we can,” Klimenko said.