Western and Russian economists agree that the sanctions imposed on Russia will, in the long run, cause the Russian economy to shrink. In the short term, however, this is unlikely, assesses Foreign Affairs magazine.
According to the magazine, in the short term, it is unlikely that the West’s strict sanctions will destroy the ruble and force the Kremlin into submission. At the same time, however, while Western punishments may not even change Moscow’s way of thinking, they undoubtedly inflict pain on parts of Russian society. Especially the country’s elite and the urban middle class.
Foreign Affairs estimates that the Russian president has learned to use economic inequalities to generate support based on the differences between what Russian researcher Natalia Zubarevich calls “the four Russia.”
Longing for the Soviet past
The First Russia is made up of inhabitants of large cities, many of whom are culturally related to the West. They are the source of most of the opposition to Putin, but this is only one fifth of the total population.
Three others Russia These are the inhabitants of poorer industrial cities who feel nostalgic for the Soviet past, the next groups are people who live in declining, permanently underfunded towns and, finally, multi-ethnic non-Russians from the northern Caucasus (including Chechnya) and southern Siberia.
The people of these three Russians strongly support Putin because their fate depends on state subsidies and because they identify themselves with values such as hierarchy.
“Russia’s turbulent history has made the majority of its population want a strong leader and country consolidation – not democracy, civil rights and national self-determination,” the magazine writes.
“It is no wonder that so many Russians expected a strongman like Putin, who promised to defend them from the hostile world and restore the Russian empire. the Russian war machine. (…) the collapse of the Soviet Union does not necessarily foreshadow the path of today’s Russia, it does not mean that the actions of the West will not have an impact on the future of the country. that the Russian economy will shrink while disruptions in the supply chain will grow, the magazine adds.
“The West should stay the course”
Without foreign knowledge and experience, the efficiency of Russian production and the quality of goods will return to the state they were in at the beginning of the 1990s, comments “Foreign Affairs”.
“In the longer term, it is possible to imagine this severe weakening of the Russian state. Separatist tendencies could increase, or they could return to some regions, such as Chechnya, if the Kremlin stops paying its inhabitants. Tensions will increase between Moscow – where the money is stored – and the cities and industrial regions that depend on imports and exports. This will most likely happen in eastern Siberia and the central Volga region, oil-producing regions that may be forced to give the Kremlin an increasing share of declining profits. “
“The West should keep the course. The sanctions will gradually drain the Russian war purse, and with it, the country’s combat capability. In the face of increasing complications on the battlefield, the Kremlin may agree to a difficult truce,” writes Foreign Affairs.
“At least for a while Ukraine and the West will have to function together with the weakened and humiliated but still autocratic Russian state. Western policymakers need to prepare for this eventuality rather than dream of Moscow’s collapse, the magazine concludes.
Main photo source: YURI KOCHETKOV / PAP / EPA