Nearly two months into the Russian-Ukraine war, the Kremlin has taken extraordinary measures to blunt the West’s economic counteroffensive. While Russia can claim some symbolic victories, the full impact of Western sanctions is beginning to be felt in very tangible ways.
As the West moved to restrict Russia’s access to its foreign reserves, limit imports of critical technologies, and take other restrictive measures, the Kremlin responded with some drastic measures to protect the economy. Interest rates were raised to as high as 20%, capital controls were imposed, and Russian businesses were forced to convert their profits into rubles.
As a result, the ruble’s value has recovered after a brief drop, and the central bank reversed part of its interest rate hike last week. Russian President Vladimir Putin felt emboldened and declared, evoking World War II imagery, that the country had withstood the West’s sanctions “blitz.”
“The government wants to paint a picture that things aren’t as bad as they actually are,” said Michael Alexeev, an Indiana University economics professor who has studied Russia’s economy since the Soviet Union’s demise.