Applying makeup on Russia’s economic ruin

The Russian central bank has printed a new hundred-ruble banknote, but banks have asked that it not be put into circulation at least until April. The reason is simple, no ATM in Russia can “recognize” the new banknote, because every ATM is manufactured in the West, and since those companies have withdrawn from Russia, there is no one left to adjust the software for the new banknote. On the opposite technological side, the same troubles. The Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, said back in April that she realized only then (when the invasion of Ukraine was well underway) that Russia was importing – nails. With such a large steel complex, we import nails, she said in parliament when it was discussed in which areas domestic industry can step in and replace those products that Russia is left without due to sanctions and the exodus of Western companies.

From ordinary nails to banking software, everything is missing in Russia. Even salt, because in the middle of the aggression against Ukraine, they realized that they only produced 60% of their domestic needs, and that they imported the rest, mostly from Ukraine. They did not realize that the market is highly dependent on the import of everything and anything, eight years since the Western sanctions due to the annexation of Crimea have been in force. Compared to today’s sanctions, those sanctions were mild, but Moscow’s laziness to take them as the last warning that its economy should be shaken up, because it had already been under isolation for years, is astonishing. Either there was nothing to shake up, or arrogance clouded the vision. Russia entered the war without any idea about how it would supply and finance that war and how it would feed and clothe its population during that time.

Hoping that the West would not have a strong and particularly united response to the invasion of Ukraine in which Russia invested a lot of money and time, Russia expected that the Ukrainian operation would be like the one in Crimea, eight years ago. It was expecting some tensions regarding imports and exports, but nothing serious that cannot be avoided by international corruption and smuggling. But the devil always comes to collect, the shops were emptied, the technological base, the market and money reserves were dried up.

Moscow counters this with what it knows – with even stronger propaganda, fixing statistics, by convincing its people that it has everything and by convincing the West that its ruin is approaching. Unfortunately, the reality behind these Potemkin villages is still devastating, but only for Moscow.

“The Russian economy has been catastrophically crippled, in the short and long term, due to economic sanctions and the withdrawal of (Western) companies” – this is the main conclusion of a large study on the state of the Russian economy, which was prepared by a group of professors from Yale University after the five-month invasion of Ukraine. In almost 120 pages, there is not a word that would give Russia any hope that it can recover under the current conditions. Wherever you see some positive aspect of the Russian economy, the researchers advise – dismiss it, because it is derived from crudely fixed statistics published by the Russian government. For example, in March, the Kremlin predicted (fabricated) that despite the sanctions, it would earn much more from oil and gas than a year ago, due to rising prices, and that forecast was taken for granted by the biggest media authorities in the West, such as Bloomberg and Fareed Zakaria. In May, however, it turned out that revenues from oil and gas had been halved, and Moscow stopped publishing data on earnings from its most important products.

Russia has irreversibly lost its position as a strategic exporter of raw materials; its dependence on the European market is much greater than Europe’s needs for its raw materials. Russia cannot make up for this with other energy buyers, especially China, which it relied on a lot, because China has been working on diversifying its energy supply for a long time, and America is by far its number one economic partner. Russia cannot compensate for the departure of Western companies and technologies, companies that made up as much as 40% of its GDP have left. It thus erased 30 years of its economic and technological progress brought by Western companies. For Russia, there is no way out of the economic collapse, as long as the economic sanctions of the West are in force. The headlines in the media saying that the Russian economy is recovering are simply not true, and the facts say that the Russian economy is falling apart according to every parameter and at every level.

The economists from one of the world’s most respected universities invested their reputation in these conclusions about today’s wartime and isolated Russian economy. No one’s interest stands behind their names and careers, just as there is nothing in their study except facts and scientific conclusions at the highest level.

When it comes to things like this, we are always faced with a choice. Will we create a view of the world based on accumulated centuries of the greatest human knowledge and scientific evidence, or will we surrender to obscure propaganda, lies, fabrication of data by an autocratic regime, which decided to attack another sovereign state, its neighbor? Are we really going to believe that everything is fine with a country that in 2022 starts making cars with equipment from the 1980s, as proof that sanctions can’t harm it? Or should we have confidence in a state that, like in the Middle Ages, launches a war campaign with the aim of robbing the neighbor’s grain and reselling it as its own? A July economic study from Yale warns that the fear of shortages and rising prices in Europe is nothing more than the effect of the same propaganda from the Kremlin, which says that the ruble is strong and that revenues from oil and gas are higher than ever. SOS signal is not being sent from this sinking ship, but threats are still being made with cannons that have long been under water, to the sounds of war marches while guns are being pressed to the back of the musicians’ heads. Unlike the people on this “drunken ship”, who arrest and shoot if you don’t trust them, you don’t have to trust the Yale scientists. They don’t ask for it. Respect the facts they present and the world will be presented to you as it is. Everything else is a deception and a bizarre desire to watch a little man  and a bearded lady in the circus.