Russian economy will hurt more if Ukraine crisis goes on: IMF chief

BERLIN (REUTERS) - International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned Russia on Tuesday that its economy, already facing lower economic growth because of the crisis in Ukraine, would face still further decline if tension with the West is allowed to continue.

"Clearly the situation is already having consequences," she said after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of other multilateral bodies, including the World Bank.

"We have revised growth projections for Russia. That is provided that the situation is resolved. If it was not ... that would clearly deteriorate the situation," Lagarde told a news conference in Berlin.

The IMF has already cut its 2014 growth forecast for the oil- and gas-based Russian economy to just 0.2 per cent from an earlier 1.3 per cent, which was the rate of growth last year. The Fund says sanctions over Ukraine, imposed by the United States, the European Union and Japan, are scaring off investors.

The IMF is providing a US$17 billion (S$21.2 billion) bailout for Ukraine but has warned that it would need re-designing if the country loses territory in the east to pro-Russian separatists, after already seeing its Crimean territory annexed by Moscow.

"Without political stability, stabilising the economy will be difficult," said Lagarde. She added that low inflation and the geopolitical risks "in the heart of Europe" pose a threat to global growth, which the IMF currently sees at 4.7 per cent this year.