Putin’s war is also a tragedy for the Russian people

Barely three weeks ago, despite the steady return to authoritarianism, the Russian population – especially in the big cities – was still closely intertwined with the outside world. They bought Swedish furniture, took package tours to Turkey and shared clips on TikTok. In one fell swoop, Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine turned their lives and prospects upside down. Whatever the outcome of the war, Russians may now face years of isolation, economic struggles and a crackdown on freedom of speech Memories of the Soviet era. Three decades of bumpy progress towards “normal life” have been reversed.

Sanctions imposed so far could devastate the economy, although that will depend in part on what happens in Ukraine and whether any sanctions are reversed after a ceasefire. Some will burn slowly. Despite half of Russia’s $643 billion in foreign exchange reserves being frozen, swift action by the central bank – doubling interest rates and limiting foreign currency withdrawals – has prevented a bank run.

But the ruble has collapsed by 30 percent, fueling inflation. Imports will collapse due to foreign exchange shortages and foreign company exits. Yale University statistics suggest that more than 400 international companies have done so withdrawn from Russia, ceased operations or scaled back. shortcomings of some goods and medicines are reported.

Formal embargoes on energy exports are still limited, but the pressure for more is mounting. Russia itself has banned the export of 200 products, including telecommunications goods, agricultural equipment and machinery, fertilizers, cars and planes, until the end of the year – ostensibly in retaliation for sanctions but also to prop up domestic supplies. Consensus forecasts show Russia’s economy will shrink 7.9 percent this year; some forecasters project up to 15 percent.

If sanctions last long-term, foreign investment and technology flows will be largely choked off. Whatever the case, Western countries are finally determined to stop importing Russian oil and gas, the lifeblood of their economies. Airspace closures and bans on western portions are beginning to ground its planes.

The lives of Russians are also changing in more insidious ways. The Kremlin tries to control you completely fraudulent war narrative, the last remaining independent media outlets were shut down. A law provides for penalties of up to 15 years for spreading “false” information about the military. Teachers are fired for refusing to teach the Kremlin’s version.

in a speech dripping with poison This week, Putin said his country needs to “cleanse itself” by “separating true patriots from scum and traitors.” Some officials adopt the language of “cleaning“. The “Z”, originally used to distinguish Russian vehicles in Ukraine, appears on clothing, walls and posters as a symbol of support for the war and the Putin regime. In displays with fascist undertones, youth are filmed in Z formations. Some critics on social media have nicknamed the stylized symbol “Zwastika”.

Older Russians will shudder at the echoes of some of the darkest days of the 20th century, but few of them will leave. However, some young people and professionals do; at least that is what one Russian economist estimates 200,000 Russians withdrew the country in the first 10 days of the war.

An accelerating brain drain will rob Russia of some of its best human talent, just as sanctions stifle the funding and expertise the country needs. None of this compares to the human and physical destruction that Putin’s forces are inflicting on Ukraine. The longer it goes, however, the clearer it becomes that the president’s war is also a disaster for his own people. Putin’s war is also a tragedy for the Russian people

Adam Bradshaw

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