The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, condemned this Wednesday the sanctions against his country, which he has compared to the persecutions against the Jews, affirming that Western countries are acting in a “hateful way”. “Parallels are drawn with anti-Semitic pogroms,” she has said, also admitting that punishment “will require profound structural changes” in the Russian economy.
“I will not hide it, they will not be easy,” he added. In a videoconference with his government, the president has said that the country will face rising unemployment and inflation temporarily while the economy adapts to the “new reality”. To mitigate the effects of the sanctions -which have resulted in a deep devaluation of the ruble and an increase in interest rates- Putin has ordered an increase in social benefits for civil servants, including pensions, an increase in the minimum wage and the salaries of Public employees. As he has said without offering further details, the government has sufficient funds to cover costs without resorting to printing money.
Following the invasion on February 24, Western countries imposed economic sanctions against the central bank, Russian imports such as oil, and oligarchs close to the Kremlin, among others. Many important private companies have left the country or have stopped production. Some $300 billion of Russia’s reserves are frozen in Western banks and on Wednesday Russia was due to repay $117 million in interest on two US currency debt bonds, the first installment in a series scheduled for March and April. Although it still has a grace period of 30 days, if it does not comply with the commitment, the country would go bankrupt. The sanctions also forced the departure of several international organizations and sporting events from Moscow.
The Russian economy “will go back 20 or 30 years,” Sergei Guriev, former economic adviser to the Russian government, for whom Putin ” has managed to destroy the Russian economy in a few weeksProfessor of Political Science in Paris, economic adviser to the Russian government in the early 2010s, predicts a “huge recession” and a “likely” Russian default.
Regarding the development of the invasion, which Russia calls a “special military operation”, Putin has said that it is developing as agreed and “successfully” and added that he has no “intent to occupy” Ukraine. Once again, the president has estimated that he had no options against Ukraine. “We simply did not have options to solve the problem peacefully”, he has pointed out, stressing that he had “reasons to believe” that “biological weapons components” were being developed on Ukrainian territory.
He has also said that “the years of intimidation of the population of Donbas”, a Russophone region in eastern Ukraine, where the authorities have faced pro-Russian separatist rebels since 2014, could no longer be tolerated.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.