Vladimir Putin
Russian minister claims US trying to bring regime change to MoscowReuters

A Russian deputy foreign minister has accused the United States of trying to bring down President Vladimir Putin by imposing economic sanctions on Moscow, according to Tass news agency.

Along with the European Union, the US has imposed a range of economic sanctions on Russian individuals, companies and even entire sectors of the economy after Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in March.

The allies have also accused Russia of fuelling the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, by providing manpower and weapons to the pro-Russian rebels fighting an insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

"It is hardly a secret that the goal of sanctions is to create social and economic conditions to carry out a change of power in Russia," said Sergei Ryabkov, as quoted by Tass.

Ryabkov told the lower house of Russia's parliament that it would take years to overcome the impact of the crisis and said Washington had tried to sour relations between Russia and its former satellite states.

Russia's economy has been battered since the Western allies introduced economic sanctions in the battle over the future of Ukraine.

The rouble has lost more than 40% of its value against the dollar since the start of the year, mostly due to falling oil prices but exacerbated by sanctions.

Russia has also experienced massive capital flight since the Ukraine crisis began, with the central bank predicting in November that capital flight would reach $128bn (£82bn, €104bn) for this year, more than double the amount it recorded in 2013.