According to a report from the Washington Post, Vladimir Putin has upset and enraged the citizens of his own country with his invasion of Ukraine, which has led to devastating sanctions that are crushing the Russian economy in a way that may take decades to recover.
As the Washington Post's Jeanne Whalen wrote, Russia made huge strides in becoming an integral part of the world's economy of the past thirty years only to see economic relationships go into a freefall as the world reacts to the unprovoked invasion.
Pointing to a meeting Putin attended in 2003 where he witnessed executives from British Petroleum agree to "a commitment to invest $6 billion in a Russian oil and gas venture," Whalen reports that that deal now lays in ruins twenty years later and the deal with the oil giant is just one piece of the economic collapse.
"Banks and insurance companies worldwide are cutting transactions with Russian counterparts," she wrote. "Computer chip manufacturers, shipping companies and a host of exporters are halting deliveries to Russia to comply with sanctions. Western nations are closing their skies and ports to Russian planes and vessels. European retailers are shuttering shops in Russia, and some oil traders are declining to buy Russian crude."
According to Konstantin Sonin, a Russian economist at the University of Chicago, Putin has only himself to blame.
"It took many years to become part of the world economy. Now most of this is destroyed, just flushed down the toilet in five days. And it cannot be easily undone,” he told the Post.
The economist pointed out that it is not only Russian oligarchs who are watching their fortunes be whittled down, but also a wide swath of Russian professionals and the upper-middle class who are being hammered.
"The shock is causing tumult at all levels of the Russian economy, from the largest companies to small- and medium-size businesses. Now Russian entrepreneurs with trading partners and bank accounts overseas worry that their assets will be frozen," the Post is reporting with Sonin adding "...the upper-middle-class entrepreneurs and professionals who will be 'totally devastated by this' number in the millions."
“People cry while talking to each other. … Nobody actually knows what is going to happen,” lamented the economist.
The Post reported that one Russian business executive who didn't want to be named explained, "The effect is catastrophic. … Even labels are becoming more expensive, because the ink comes from overseas. In the space of one week … small business in Russia has half-died.”
Sergey Aleksashenko, a top official in Russia’s Finance Ministry in the 1990s, predicted a bleak future unless events change soon.
“Russia will pay an enormous price in the economy. … The future is very dark,” Aleksashenko stated. "If Putin stays in power another 10 or 15 years. I think by that time Russia will be more isolated from the global economy than it was in the time of the Soviet Union.”
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