Russia says still likely to back Paris climate deal despite US withdrawal
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich smiles during an interview at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Russia said on Friday it was still likely to back the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change despite the U.S. withdrawal from the pact, but a Kremlin aide said Washington's pull-out left a gaping hole in the deal.

Russia has signed the Paris climate pact but is the biggest emitter of global greenhouse gases not to have yet ratified it.

Russian officials have said they need more time to assess its potential impact on their economy and have spoken of drafting a strategy for low-carbon development, fuelling fears among green campaigners Moscow may not ratify the agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Friday he did not think that U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull his country out of the agreement would prompt Russia to rethink its own stance however.

"We made the decision to join, and I don't think we will (change) it," the RIA news agency cited Dvorkovich as telling reporters at an economic forum in St Petersburg.

"The deal simply amounts to a signal about the unity of countries around a certain theme. I don't think anyone doubts that the Americans will make environmental policy. We will definitely do this (make environmental policy) regardless of whether we are part of the agreement or not," he added.

Separately, Kremlin aide Andrei Belousov told reporters at the same event that the U.S. withdrawal punched a gaping hole in the pact, rendering it unworkable.

Belousov said Russia was analyzing the U.S. move, but said Russia's own plans did not depend on the decision of others, including the United States.

"I think it's a great shame because decisions that have been taken should not be changed," he said of the U.S. withdrawal.

"It's obvious that without the participation of the United States the Paris agreement will be unworkable because the United States is one of the biggest generators of emissions."

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said on Thursday that Moscow attached "great significance" to the deal despite anything the United States might do.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin/Dmitry Solovyov/Alexander Winning; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Stephen Powell)