Russian economy shrank 1.9% in first quarter - stats service

A general view of city skyline and skyscrapers under construction during sunset as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Moscow

(Reuters) - Russia's economy shrank 1.9% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023, data from the Rosstat federal statistics service showed on Wednesday, following growth of 3% in the same period of last year.

Russia's economy defied early expectations of a double-digit collapse in 2022, but still contracted 2.1% after the West imposed sanctions in response to Moscow despatching troops to Ukraine in February.

The economy ministry this month estimated that gross domestic product (GDP) had fallen 2.2% in the first quarter, while the central bank has predicted a 2.3% decline. That follows a 2.7% drop in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Rosstat data.

The first-quarter drop was led by declines in retail turnover and wholesale goods turnover, while manufacturing, agriculture and construction were among the sectors to record growth.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is among those forecasting growth in 2023, although it expects global isolation and lower energy revenues to dampen Russia's economic growth prospects for years to come.

Blunting the impact of sanctions are rising military production and huge state spending, allowing Moscow to plough on with what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Toby Chopra)