Russian businessmen are beginning to beg Vladimir Putin to spare them the economic pain felt from U.S. and European sanctions. With their companies having lost hundreds of millions of dollars already, tycoons waited over an hour to speak to Putin on Thursday, and they got five minutes of his time and no assurances. Russia’s economy was doing badly before the Crimea crisis: $35 billion was pulled out of Russia in January and February, and that could jump to $50 billion if sanctions get tougher, said Putin’s adviser Alexei Kudrin. Since the West’s economy is still fairly entwined with Russia’s, though, it is unclear how much more severe sanctions will be.
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