Peterhof Palace
© Sputnik / Roman Yandolin
Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
The Russian economy has seen the biggest growth since 2012, expanding by 2.3 percent last year, according to preliminary estimates provided by Russian state statistics agency.

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.7 percent in 2018 compared to 1.6 percent the year earlier, and amounted to 103.6 trillion rubles ($1.6 trillion), Rosstat revealed on Monday. The growth surpassed earlier projections from Russia's economy ministry, which expected the economic growth to stand at 2 percent, as well as the World Bank forecast.

Hotel and food businesses, as well as financial and insurance sectors, have seen the biggest gains, both marking more than a 6 percent growth, the data shows. Construction and mining operations also demonstrated a significant contribution to the overall economic growth, expanding 4.7 percent and 3.8 percent correspondingly.

Despite compelling growth in Russia's agricultural sector in October last year, it finished the year in decline, falling some 2 percent.

Comment: Being a world exporter in grains means a decline in it's agricultural sector isn't just bad news for Russia.

The country's economy has been expanding for three consecutive years since a 2.5 percent decline in 2015, the first full year under Western sanctions. The last time the country's GDP growth was bigger was in 2012, when it amounted to 3.7 percent.

Earlier, the World Bank said that the Russian economy increased just 1.6 percent in 2018, adding that it may face a short-term slowdown this year to 1.5 percent. The body expects the growth rate of the country's GDP to stand at 1.8 percent in 2020 and 2021.

At the same time, Russia is expected to become the world's fifth-largest economy next year, surpassing Germany and the UK, according to long-term growth forecasts published by multinational bank Standard Chartered.