A Russian State Flag is sen in the picture.Reuters

Trade between the United States and Russia spiked by 7% despite the economic sanctions levied by the US on the country, President Vladimir Putin said.

Both countries were surprised by the trade stats. Data from the US Commerce Department show that US exports to Russia increased by 1% in 2014. However, imports from Russia are down 13%, The Washington Post reported.

"When I looked at the statistic today . . . [it] even surprised me a little," Putin told Interfax, the Russian news agency.

The report does come as a surprise because Western sanctions against Russia have been tight and that has strained relationship between the two countries.

More recently, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with a local newspaper that the Western sanctions against the country were violating international law and were aimed at damaging the country's economy.

"The situation that we see today in connection with unilateral restrictions introduced by the U.S., the European Union and some other countries certainly contradicts international legal norms, including, on a whole number of occasions, the norms of the WTO [World Trade Organization and our Western colleagues' declared conceptual approaches toward the development of international economic cooperation - respect for market principles, honest competition, etc," Lavrov told Russia Beyond the Headlines. 

"As for the political component of these sanctions, I could say that as long as coercive measures were adopted, primarily by the UN Security Council, because all the rest was illegitimate, our Western partners were among the first who called for these sanctions to target leaders who failed abide by UN states' decisions and to prevent any negative side-effect on the population," Lavrov added.

On Friday, President Putin signed a military doctrine that identified NATO as a potential threat to the country adding that Russia could employ nuclear weapons if any country threatens the existence of Russia, The Associated Press reports.

NATO however said that it poses no threat to Russia.

"Any steps taken by NATO to ensure the security of its members are clearly defensive in nature, proportionate and in compliance with international law," a spokeswoman for NATO was quoted by the AP.

"In fact, it is Russia's actions, including currently in Ukraine, which are breaking international law and undermining European security," she added.

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