Fact Check

Putin Said Russia Has the Largest Economy in Europe?

The Russian president's January 2024 claim was based on a specific measurement.

Published Feb. 25, 2024

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Image Via Getty Images
Claim:
In January 2024, Vladimir Putin said Russia has the largest economy in Europe.
Context

Although Putin did state that the Russian economy had surpassed Germany's and was the largest in Europe, he was referring to Purchasing Power Parity, not nominal GDP.

On Feb. 15, 2024, X (formerly Twitter) user @jacksonhinklle wrote that "Russia is now the LARGEST economy in Europe." The tweet received more than 2.8 million views and 54,000 likes, as of this writing.

(@jacksonhinklle)

The post was based on a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and some news outlets ran headlines in mid-January 2024 such as "'We are the largest economy in Europe, despite pressure from every side': Russian President Putin" and "Russia has become Europe's largest economy, despite sanctions led by US and EU, says Putin."

Putin did make that claim, but the post on X and the headlines neglect to include key context surrounding his actual quote.

According to TASS, the Russian state news agency, Putin met with a group of entrepreneurs Jan. 11 in Khabarovsk — a remote city in southeastern Russia, near the Chinese border — and stated (emphasis ours):

It seems that we are being strangled and pressured from every side, but still, we are the largest economy in Europe. We left Germany behind and climbed to fifth in the world [in terms of GDP at purchasing power parity]: China, the US, India, Japan and Russia. We are number one in Europe. … We have left all of Europe behind in terms of purchasing power parity but as for the per capita indicator, we need to work harder. There is still work to be done.

Purchasing Power Parity, or GDP PPP, is essentially a way of comparing prices for goods at different locations. It is different from nominal gross domestic product — the value of all commodities and services generated by a nation in a specific timeframe — and is used to account for the discrepancies in exchange rates between countries.

In terms of nominal GDP, Germany led Europe with $4,429.838 trillion in 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund. Russia ranked fifth, with $1,862.470 trillion.

But, as of 2022, Germany's GDP PPP stood at $5.32 trillion and Russia's was $5.33 trillion, according to World Bank data. Therefore, Putin was correct in saying that Russia has surpassed Germany in terms of GDP PPP. 

On Feb. 8, the Russian leader had a sit-down interview with political commentator Tucker Carlson in which he reiterated the claim:

Russia was the first economy in Europe last year, despite all the sanctions and restrictions. Is it normal from your point of view: sanctions, restrictions, impossibility of payments in dollars, being cut off from SWIFT services, sanctions against our ships carrying oil, sanctions against airplanes, sanctions in everything, everywhere. The largest number of sanctions in the world which are applied, are applied against Russia. And we have become Europe's first economy during this time.

Again, this statement is in reference to GDP PPP, not nominal GDP.

Because Putin publicly stated on more than one occasion that Russia has the largest economy in Europe, we rate this claim as "True."

Sources

'GDP of European Countries 2022'. Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/685925/gdp-of-european-countries/. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

'Https://Twitter.Com/Jacksonhinklle/Status/1758325070785642694'. X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/jacksonhinklle/status/1758325070785642694. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

'Russia Becomes Europe's First Economy despite "pressure from All Sides," Putin Says'. TASS, https://tass.com/economy/1730891. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

'Vladimir Putin Arrived in Khabarovsk'. President of Russia, 10 Jan. 2024, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/73249.

'"We Are the Largest Economy in Europe, despite Pressure from Every Side": Russian President Putin'. The Economic Times, 12 Jan. 2024. The Economic Times - The Times of India, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/we-are-the-largest-economy-in-europe-despite-pressure-from-every-side-russian-president-putin/articleshow/106759531.cms?from=mdr.

'What Is Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), and How Is It Calculated?' Investopedia, https://www.investopedia.com/updates/purchasing-power-parity-ppp/. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

'World Bank Open Data'. World Bank Open Data, https://data.worldbank.org. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Taija PerryCook is a Seattle-based journalist who previously worked for the PNW news site Crosscut and the Jordan Times in Amman.