Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Western countries were worse hit by sanctions imposed on Moscow over Ukraine than Russia, which he insists has been resilient in the face of “external challenges”. The AFP news agency reports that Putin told a government meeting this could be seen “by looking at the sharp rise of inflation in Europe which is close to 20 percent in some countries,” while welcoming the “gradual” slowdown in inflation in Russia after it surged to 16.7 percent year-on-year in March, as well as the recovery of the ruble, which is now at its strongest since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis.