Milan, Italy – The editor of one of Russia’s most respected independent business papers grudgingly admits that the Putin team is riding the sanctions storm well.
“We have released some figures for the first half of 2022 and the general feeling is much more optimistic than in March or April,” Peter Mironenko of “The Bell” told Fox News.
“Let’s see the figures. They are not manipulated. On the one hand we see an economic recession in the second quarter. GDP has fallen by about 4% and in the third quarter we will have about 7%. This is recession. But the scale is much more modest. than what was said three or four months ago “.
It is less dramatic than it was in 2009 when the war was not underway; it is also lower than the Russian Central Bank’s initial forecast of an 8-10% decline in GDP this year. And there is more. Household income fell only 0.8%, according to Mironenko. There is even deflation right now. Some people were simply frightened by the political situation to spend less, saving for an even rainier day.
PUTIN’S CHARM FOR FALSE STORY AND SYMBOLISM CAN GO DEEPER THAN WE KNOW
There is less foreign stuff to buy, so some Russians are canceling it, but in reality, imported items can still be bought, between brokers and the surprisingly strong ruble, Mironenko says an iPhone will cost you about the same as a year ago. He himself was shocked to find out when he recently bought one for his father.
The government, he says, has wisely avoided price controls even though everything else seems to go back to the USSR. Unemployment is at an all-time low. Some of these are artificial. The government has raised pensions and salaries since the start of the war, because it can.
“The sanctions have not diminished Russian budget revenue from oil exports, so the government has money,” said Mironenko, who recently went into exile due to immense press pressure.
“It will have (will have money) in 2022 and 2023 and, as we know, historically Vladimir Putin’s government has also been very good, very cautious about people’s personal income. His whole ‘prosperity legend’ is based on the constant increase. personal income of people Since 2000 it has been closely linked to the increase in oil prices “.
But anyway, adds Mironenko, Putin must carry on that prosperity project, and as long as Moscow has the funds, he will spend it to keep the Russians in black.
WHAT DO THE SANCTIONS TO RUSSIA DO?
How long will it last, I ask Mironenko? He admits that sanctions work, in theory, but says, “It’s a long process. Historically there aren’t many examples where even the heaviest sanctions do their job in a year. I don’t think we’ll see any effects: policies change sooner. three or five years. ”
The energy dance is complicated, according to Mironenko who explains that oil is more important than gas for Russia’s coffers, so somehow a commodity to play with.
Vladimir Putin has started a game of reducing gas flow to Europe, presumably to see if that will make Brussels nervous enough to ease sanctions. Pain, apparently worth bearing for now. But when the European ban on Russian oil comes into effect at the end of the year, there could be a real flare-up of anxiety in Russia and Mironenko will follow that moment closely.
Meanwhile, when it comes to public opinion, it’s not just the propaganda-absorbing crowd in Russia that blames the West for the troubles they are experiencing, although for the moment the economy is apparently – albeit perhaps artificially strong. It is harder to have a life connected to the outside world and for many educated and democratically minded Russians, this is vital.
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Mironenko says there is a lot of anger among those who feel excluded from the West and also a lot of debate about how and where one should live one’s life from a moral perspective. So while the economy may be quite solvent for the moment, inner pursuit and angst is dragging many Russians down.