Russia: Opponents of Putin reveal impact of Western sanctions
Russia this week said it would drastically reduce activity near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and around Chernihiv in a promise rejected by Western officials as a possible attempt to “play for time”. Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia were held on Wednesday but are not expected to go as planned. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down hopes of a breakthrough in resuming peace talks with the two powers.
He told reporters that Russia did not see “something really promising”, but said Russia’s chief negotiator would provide an update later.
Many say that while the negotiations themselves are a step in the right direction, Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to give up anytime soon, desperate to frame his conflict as a winning “special military operation” for the Russian people.
But for how long this position is worth debating.
Moscow is currently shaking under the heavy brunt of the western and world sanctions that were slapped in the days and weeks after the invasion began.
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While previous sanctions have focused mainly on those deemed close to Putin and the Kremlin, this time the restrictions are slowly trickling down to the Russian people.
Furthermore, private companies from around the world have stepped up and moved in line with governments, temporarily ceasing their operations in Russia, meaning people can no longer buy something as simple as a Big Mac.
According to Natia Seskuria, associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), all of this has combined to create an environment of high pressure and high tension.
He believes now is an important time for Putin and his people, as ordinary citizens feel the consequences of their president’s actions and are forced to make decisions about their future.
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He told IpadNews.co.uk: “I think this is an important time, because the Russian population is already feeling the severe sanctions, and these sanctions are affecting the population at every level.
“It’s not just about the super-rich being affected anymore – everyone feels that life isn’t the same anymore.
“This is of course worrying for the Putin regime because, even if ordinary citizens don’t really care about Russia invading a foreign and sovereign country and killing people there, economic problems are something that always causes anger among the population.
“This could in the long run really affect how people ipadnews their support for Putin.”
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Seskuria goes on to talk about the so-called Color Revolution that took place in several ex-Soviet countries at the start of the Noughties and its effect on the mindset of Putin and his allies.
He said the idea of mass protests left Putin and his allies cold, and continued: “What we’re seeing now is really incredible, because I think there’s a deep fear and this is the fear that swept across Putin’s presidency.
“Since 2003, he has been very afraid of the impact of the Color Revolutions that took place in Georgia in 2003, and Ukraine in 2004.
“Mass protests are something the Putin regime has been suppressing and fearing for a long time.
“I think that’s why they’re trying to turn Russia into a big information bubble.”
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The current sanctions are very broad and have been led by the EU, US and UK.
Bans on the export of dual-use goods for civilian and military purposes, such as auto parts, have been imposed by the three powers.
This is reportedly having an impact on Russian manufacturers, with Ukraine claiming that Russia’s main armored vehicle factory has run out of spare parts for making and repairing tanks.
Britain has also imposed sanctions on Russia’s Wagner Group – a private military company that it considers to function as a Russian military unit.
Economic sanctions: A husband and wife and their child walk past a closed McDonald’s and KFC near Moscow
All Russian flights have been banned from the airspace of the US, UK, EU and Canada, and the UK has also banned private jets chartered by Russia.
These are just a few of the sanctions that apply.
Elsewhere, companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Heineken have pulled out of the country.
The world’s biggest cosmetics company L’Oreal and rival Estee Lauder have closed stores and stopped online sales.
And Swedish furniture giant Ikea, whose introduction marked a turning point for Russia and its people in embracing the western world, has also closed its doors.