February 5, 2023

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The Russian Economy Didn’t Collapse: Is This Putin’s Revenge Against Sanctions? | Federico Rampini

to me Washington Post last letter Russian President Vladimir Putin On the state of the Russian economy indirect response to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
This year’s Global Enterprise Summit in the Swiss Mountains banished Russians, political leaders and oligarchs, with a warm welcome from the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.

For this incalculable symbolic display of Russian loneliness It does not correspond to an equally strict economic isolation.

Putin, as if wanting to launch a provocation of the Davos elite, incited Reassuring data about its economy. said so Russia’s GDP in the January-November period decreased by only 2.1%, so the reality was much better than the predictions of many experts. Putin insisted on this point by pointing out that some of our experts, not to mention foreigners, predicted a decline of 10%, 15% or even 20%.

Going to re-read certain scenarios for mid-2022 proves him right: there was an unfounded victory, in some Western circles, that was based on Underestimating Russia’s economic capabilities Or overestimating the impact of our sanctions.

Right to take Putin’s official data – which projects a 2.5% drop in GDP for the whole of 2022 – With the advantage of stock.

Official Russian statistics may not tell us the whole truth.

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to A statistic that is difficult to manipulate in foreign tradebecause it is easier to verify by comparing it with data from countries that import from Russia.

On this front, what ameliorated the economic crisis in Russia is clearly visible: The significant rise in energy prices in global markets in 2022 compensated for the decrease in the quantities exported.


Moscow has sold less gas, but at much higher prices, for most of the past year. On the other hand, we must remember that we have Penalties In terms of energy – the embargo on Russian oil and fixing the price of gas – They arrived too lateand there are still restrictions.

the Washington Post He quotes a Russian professor teaching at an Irish college, Alexander Titov of Queen’s University Belfast, who emphasized on a recent trip home the reduced impact of Western sanctions on the availability of consumer goods.

This has been confirmed by other independent observers Russian economywith poverty, It shows no signs of a shortage or dramatic chaos, as happened during the crisis of the 1990s.

True, our sanctions were not designed to target mass consumption, but rather to limit Putin’s ability to acquire or produce new weapons of mass destruction: the lack of Western technologies must have an impact on that front. But Every ban, even a technology ban, can be at least partially circumvented.

lately The New York Times He published an investigation from the borders of Russia and Georgia, where An endless column of trucks carrying Western goods to market where, in theory, they should not reach. Georgia has no political interest in helping Putin, who invaded it in 2008. However, economic interest prevails, and the black market is generous with profits. Fierce Western companies sell products to Georgia that will eventually end up — at prices that are convenient to offset the middlemen — to Russian customers. Controls should prevent this; Judging by the length of the Terre columns The controls don’t work.

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Even assuming that Putin is smoothing over reality, and that his official statements do not faithfully portray the state of the Russian economy, the situation in Moscow must be seen in this context: Ukraine’s economy collapsed 33% in 2022, by most reports. estimates so far.

As for Russia’s general deficit, it is equivalent to 2.3% of its GDP, which is lower than that of the United States. We’re still in the circle of official statistics, but maybe we’re not too far off from reality. This is also a figure that must be interpreted carefully: Russia does not have a huge public deficit either because it no longer has access to Western financial markets, and therefore cannot go into debt. Calculations must be made regarding the economic damage to Russia in the long term. Some sanctions in the field of energy will bear fruit only in 2023. There is no doubt that Russia’s role in the global energy market will decrease and even be marginalized, as will its ability to blackmail Europe.

Russia’s dependence on its new markets – China and India – has immediate costs and will entail even more in the coming years.

Putin’s indirect message at the Davos summit is enriched with new details that come precisely from Switzerland: the Swiss Confederation seems to have broken away from its neutrality to join the sanctions group; latest news – From this onwards courierHe revealed that his ruthlessness in striking down the oligarchy is more myth than fact.