By Paul Goble
Vladimir Putin and his entourage are still insisting that sanctions aren’t having a major impact on Russia and that in fact they are hurting their Western authors more than the country they have targeted. But experts and new government data show Western sanctions are hurting Russia and that Moscow can’t hide that fact, Kseniya Kirillova says.
The US-based analyst and commentator documents that in a paper for the Center for European Policy Analysis and presents her basic finds on the Krym.com portal (cepa.org/russia-begins-to-pay-the-price-for-sanctions/ and ru.krymr.com/a/rossiya-putin-sanktsii-voyna-ekonomika/31909510.html)
And she shows that Russian government statistics and the conclusions of economists often presented on Telegram channels increasingly call into question what the Kremlin is saying and make it clear that those just below the top in the Russian system are very much aware that the impact of sanctions can no longer be hidden.
After almost four months of war, she writes, “Russian economists have begun to offer certain results of sanctions on the Russian economy.” Perhaps most dramatically, they say that machine building, a basic part of a modern economy, is now producing only about 15 percent of the output it did in January because key foreign parts aren’t available any longer.
Similar if not in every case as dramatic declines have been registered in branch after branch of the Russian economy, first by independent observers, then government statisticians, and finally by more mainstream media, a development that means ever more Russians are going to have confirmed by these sources what they can see with their own eyes.
To the extent that Kirillova is correct, that means that Russians are beginning to admit that sanctions are affecting them, something that undercuts Kremlin messages and means that this form of pressure is only now beginning to take the form supporters of sanctions hoped they would.
And that in turn means that the true impact of sanctions is emerging only now, with Russians hearing from their own experts and some officials just how hard these sanctions have hit their country’s economy. Ordinary Russians will no longer be as willing to dismiss what is happening and continue to believe Putin’s words rather than their own eyes.