"A double blow has been inflicted on the Russian economy," the Secretary said. According to him, the sanctions have led to a reduction in investment in Russia, and the fall in oil prices reduces the "black gold" export earnings from.
"Pressures on the economy of Russia are very substantial. This is reflected in the daily fluctuations of the ruble. Hopefully, this will lead to a change in the position of Russia on Ukraine," Lew said.
According to him, the Russian economy has been strong even before the sanctions. "It further weakened due to sanctions, and then due to falling oil prices," the head of the U.S. Treasury noted.
Lew said that Russia should make efforts to resolve the situation in Ukraine through diplomacy. "Right now we don't see it. So we keep the sanctions pressure, with the support of our partners, including the ones in Europe," the Secretary said.
The EU and the US imposed sanctions on Russia for support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine with weapons and manpower. New economic measures against Russia will be discussed by the EU member states at the summit on Dec. 18-19.
Russia's Finance Ministry estimates the losses to the country's budget in 2015 caused by deteriorating external environment, decreasing economic growth and imports to be 1 trillion rubles. (about $21.5 billion).