Russia Sees Vast Changes Post 3 Months Of Warfare
When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the invasion of Ukraine, violence looked far away. However, the conflict was brought home within days, not with cruise missiles and mortars, but with unprecedented and surprisingly large volleys of sanctions by Western governments and economic punishment by corporations.
The blows still impact many ordinary Russians to their livelihoods and emotions three months post the invasion. The enormous shopping malls of Moscow have become ghostly sites of closed storefronts that Western merchants formerly inhabited.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, McDonald’s — whose introduction in Russia in 1990 was a cultural phenomenon, bringing a gleaming modern convenience to a drab society with few options – pulled out of the country. Likewise, IKEA, the embodiment of low-cost modern amenities, has halted operations. As a result, thousands of secured occupations have become insecure in a short period.
Despite their significant investments in Russia, major industrial firms such as oil majors BP and Shell and manufacturer Renault have walked away. Shell estimates that trying to sell its Russian holdings will cost it $5 billion.
Thousands of Russians with the financial means were fleeing at the same time as the corporations, fearful of stringent new government policies related to the war, which they perceived as a plunge into complete dictatorship. In addition, some young men may have fled because they were afraid that the Kremlin would impose a compulsory draught to fund its war machine.
However, leaving has become much more complex than before: the European Union’s 27 member states and the United States and Canada have all prohibited flights to and from Russia. For example, Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, was once a casual long-weekend destination, 90 minutes by flight from Moscow, but now that takes approx 12 hours via Istanbul.
Even virtual travel through the Internet and social media has become more limited for Russians. Further, Russia blocked access to international media websites such as the BBC, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in March, albeit this can be evaded by using VPNs.
Many major independent news organizations shut down or ceased operations when Russian authorities enacted a law levying up to 15 years in prison for reports containing “false news” about the war. The Ekho Moskvy radio station and Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper, were among them.
Ordinary Russians may bear a tremendous psychological cost due to repressions, restrictions, and dwindling chances, which is impossible to quantify. Although some Russian public opinion surveys show overwhelming support for the Ukraine war, the results are likely biased by respondents who remain mute, afraid to disclose their true feelings.
In a statement, An expert from Moscow said that Russian society is currently afflicted by “aggressive submission” and that the deterioration of social bonds could intensify.
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“The debate is becoming increasingly broad. You can label your fellow citizen – a fellow citizen who happens to hold a different viewpoint — a “traitor” and dismiss them as a second-class citizen. Then, like the highest-ranking government officials, you are free to contemplate publicly and calmly the possibility of nuclear war. “This is something that was never allowed in Soviet days under Pax Atomica when both sides realized that the resulting destruction was unfathomable,” adds the source.
“Now that knowledge is fading, another symptom of Russia’s anthropological calamity,” he said.
The economic ramifications have yet to be fully realized.
The Russian currency lost half its value in the early days of the war. However, government efforts to stabilize it have increased its worth to a level higher than before the invasion.
However, “that’s a whole different story” in terms of economic activity, according to an experienced Macro-Advisory Russia economy specialist.
“We are seeing a deterioration in the economy across a wide range of areas.”
Companies are warning that spare parts supplies are running low. As a result, many organizations are putting their employees on part-time work, and some are threatening to shut down completely. So there’s a real risk that unemployment will rise over the summer, and that consumption, retail sales, and investment would plummet,” he adds.
According to the spokesperson, the relatively strong currency, however encouraging it may appear, causes issues for the national budget.
“They effectively receive revenue in foreign currency from exporters, and they are paid in rubles. As a result, the stronger the ruble becomes, the less money they have to spend,” he explained. “This makes Russian exporters less competitive globally since they are more expensive.”
If the war continues, more corporations may leave Russia. Companies that have just paused operations, may restore them if a cease-fire and peace agreement for Ukraine is signed, but he warned that the window for doing so is closing.
“If you wander around Moscow’s shopping malls, you’ll notice that many fashion businesses, which Western corporations own, have simply closed their doors.” Their shelves are stacked high, and the lights are still turned on. They’re not available. So yet, they haven’t withdrawn. Instead, he explained, “They’re waiting to see what happens next.”
Those companies will be forced to settle the limbo in their Russian operations currently.
“We’re now getting to the point where firms are running out of time or even patience,” he remarked.