MOSCOW, April 15 (RIA Novosti) – The current difficulties faced by the Russian economy are due to some extent to attempts to push the country into an artificial crisis, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday.

“We of course cannot ignore the political elements of the current period. To an extent, our difficulties – I emphasize only to a certain extent – are tied to attempts of certain forces to push us into an artificial crisis,” Medvedev said during a meeting with finance officials.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said at the meeting the main reason for capital outflow from Russia was the uncertainty of the geopolitical situation.

“The capital outflow that remains is lowering the ability of investments in the economy to grow and is creating a risk of an unbalanced budget,” Siluanov said, adding that of the $63 billion of capital outflow in the first quarter of this year, $20 billion came from the growth of foreign currency held by Russians.

In early April, the Russian Economic Development Ministry increased the initial estimate of capital outflow from Russia this year to $100 billion from $25 billion.

The head of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, said earlier this month that geopolitical risks were large, especially if Russian banks and companies ran into restrictions on refinancing in Western markets, and a review of forecasts of ratings may negatively impact the country’s financial stability.

The fate of Crimea, formerly an autonomous republic within Ukraine and Russia’s newest region since last month, has sparked the greatest geopolitical showdown between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

Dozens of Russian officials and several banks have been hit by punitive sanctions levied by Washington and Brussels in response to the reunification of Crimea with Russia.