The Biden administration’s efforts to destabilize Russia’s economy and damage the Kremlin’s public approval have not materialized, according to a review of multiple sources.
The United States, the European Union (E.U.), the United Kingdom (U.K.) and other Western allies have taken several steps to undermine public opinion in Moscow and throttle Russia’s economy following the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, Russia’s economy is recovering – despite forced isolation from the West – and Moscow appears to have retained the trust of its citizens as the war against Ukraine continues, according to a review of several sources.
Following the beginning of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, many Western nations introduced or inflated sanctions against Russia and its citizens, resulting in over $300 billion in Russian banking assets being frozen as of October, according to the European Council. The Biden administration continues to enforce its sanctions against Russia to hold it “accountable for its war of aggression,” and Congress has also approved roughly $100 billion in aid to Ukraine since the war started.
“Imagine what happens if we, in fact, unite all of Europe, and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is finally put down where he cannot cause the kind of trouble he’s been causing,” President Joe Biden said in October on “60 Minutes.” “We have enormous opportunities, enormous opportunities to make it a better world.”
Over 1,000 major global companies and brands pulled their business out of Russia in 2022, and Russia’s GDP had dropped 2.1% by the end of the year, according to the Yale School of Management and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
But Russia appears to be recovering from its forced economic isolation, according to a review of sources. As part of a set of sanctions introduced in December 2022, Western nations installed a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian oil exports and have looked to other countries for their own imports, according to Reuters and Politico.
In turn, Russia has started exporting oil and fossil fuel products in much higher volumes to places like China and India, and is still shipping oil into the E.U. by skirting sanctions through intermediary countries, according to the Center For Eastern Studies and Politico. The $60 price cap has also proved largely ineffective, Reuters reported.
“Even unfriendly countries note that the so-called price cap has not worked,” Russian Energy Ministry official Vladimir Furgalsky said at a roundtable in Parliament on Nov. 23, according to Reuters. “More than 99% of oil traded well above the $60 per barrel ceiling.”
India and China accounted for roughly 80% of Russia’s oil exports in 2023, according to the Center for Eastern Studies. Overall trade between Russia and China increased 32% in 2023, CNN Business reported.
“Russia and China, like most countries of the world, share the desire for equal, mutually beneficial cooperation in order to achieve universal sustainable and long-term economic progress and social well-being,” Putin said during a visit to China in October, while referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping as his “dear friend,” Reuters reported.
Domestically, Russia has focused on bolstering its economy by replacing global brands that left the country with Russian equivalents, according to The Telegraph. For example, brands like McDonald’s were replaced with the Russian counterpart “Vkusno i Tochka,” Starbucks was replaced with “Stars Coffee” and IKEA was replaced with “Swed House,” a Belarussian furniture company.
Additionally, many brands that pulled their business from Russia are still available via cross-border shipping or through online marketplaces, according to Reuters. The overall consumer experience in Russia remains relatively stable, although prices can be higher for some goods.
Increasing by more than 30% in 2022, Russia’s defense industry remains a massive driver of its economy, especially in the country’s ongoing war with Ukraine, according to Bloomberg. Russia’s defense spending will account for 6% of its GDP in 2024, compared to 3.9% this year. (RELATED: Zelenskyy Says Summer Counteroffensive Did Not Achieve Its Aims)
Overall, Russia’s economy is on the rise; the IMF initially predicted in 2022 that Russia’s GDP would drop by 2.5% in 2023. The IMF changed its prediction in October to an increase of 2.2% in Russia’s GDP for 2023. Global imports rose by roughly 8% in 2023, and exports remain low, according to the European Council.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in November that there were initial fears that Russia’s economy would crumble in 2022, but those concerns have largely subsided.
“There was a threat of a collapse, we really had to mobilize all resources and internal forces in order to prevent this collapse,” Peskov said on Nov. 20, according to Business Insider. “Thanks to the rather insightful and wise decisions of the country’s leadership, thanks to the titanic work of the government, it was possible to reach a plateau, stabilize [the economic situation] and then, in an absolutely unexpected way, enter a growth trend.”
The Russian public’s confidence in Putin and the war against Ukraine has consistently remained above 70%, according to data analyzed by the Atlantic Council from Russian pollster Levada Center. Russian approval of Putin increased from approximately 71% in February 2022 to 85% in November, according to the Levada Center.
The validity of some of this polling is hard to discern, as there are risks associated with protesting against the Kremlin from inside Russia, according to the Atlantic Council.
Putin has blamed the Biden administration and its Western allies for the conflict in Ukraine, and most recently for the Israel-Hamas war and the subsequent conflict in the Middle East, according to Reuters. Russian attitudes toward the U.S. and E.U. remain negative at roughly 60%, according to the Levada Center.
The White House and Russia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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