What does the war mean for Russia?

Russian Finance Ministry announced on Thursday that it had transferred the 117 million dollars in interest on Eurobonds. In view of the sanctions, it was unclear right up to the last moment whether Moscow would honour its contractual obligations. Commentators discuss the likelihood of Russia going bankrupt as well as what holds the country's economy together.

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NV (UA) /

Russian economy on its last legs

The economic consequences of this war will be devastating for Russia in the long run, writes investment banker Serhij Fursa in NV:

“The demise of the Russian economy can only be stopped by Putin's death. ... Ukraine is like a man who has broken his leg. It hurts a lot, it's difficult to move, but the doctor promises that you'll be able to walk again in six months' time. The support from its Western partners will be enormous. But the Russian economy has been diagnosed with stage three cancer. Unless Putin is amputated, a fatal outcome is inevitable.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Kremlin sourcing its money from gas exports

La Repubblica believes state bankruptcy is still a long way off for Russia:

“In a semi-state economy like Russia's, there is nothing to stop the government from using exporting companies that earn foreign currency as a 'surrogate' central bank to distribute funds to the government, banks and importing companies. In fact, the government has already obliged (effective retroactively!) everyone who receives dollars to exchange 80 percent into roubles. This strategy could be successful because annual oil and gas revenues can currently cover a third of Russia's budget and military spending for two years - probably the only thing Putin cares about right now.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

On the path to self-isolation

Putin's war propaganda is leading to a wagon train mentality, Lidové noviny notes:

“According to polls [put out by the state-affiliated polling institutes Wziom and Fom], between 68 and 71 percent of Russians support the war against Ukraine. ... Obviously the propaganda is working. The question will be what happens when reports of Russian military losses emerge. According to a 2015 decree by Putin, any report on Russian army losses is considered treason. But it is by no means certain how long this can be sustained. How the war will end is still unclear. But that does not change the fact that Russia is likely to become even more closed, and much less predictable.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Massive damper on the Russian economy

The sanctions will hit Russia hard no matter how prepared it might be, writes Kathimerini:

“It's true that Putin has had eight years (since the 2014 crisis) to prepare for Western sanctions. And he's done so largely successfully, amassing huge foreign exchange reserves, finding substitutes for many imports from the West and alternatives from China. This time, however, the sanctions will have nothing to do with what has happened so far. Nord Stream 2, a strategically important project, will most likely not be certified, and the Americans will cut Russia off from important high-tech products. A ban from Swift cannot be ruled out either, which will make the country's international trade in US dollars extremely difficult.”

Novaya Gazeta (RU) /

A pariah state like Iran

Novaya Gazeta sees Russia heading towards a grim future:

“Whatever losses Ukraine suffers, Russia's losses will be greater. Everything is plunging into the abyss: the rouble, wages, the future. The same fate as Iran awaits Russia. ... All sanctions that cut Russia off from world markets are declared 'unprovoked aggression'. Misery, poverty and arbitrariness will all be blamed on the sanctions ... The world is simply splitting into a free world where trade, technology and science prevail - and states à la Iran or Russia where the only official ideology is that of the fight against enemies. The Iron Curtain is clattering down over Russia.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Putin planting a bomb in his own state

Putin's actions in Ukraine and the suppression of all criticism in his country will destabilise Russia, analyst Tatiana Stanovaya believes in Financial Times:

“The whole [Russian] system is switching from the 'power of authority', based on popular legitimacy, to the 'authority of power' - reliance on repression rather than constructive strategy. ... As time passes, public discontent and anger will gradually accumulate. By dismantling mechanisms for society to blow off steam and tightening political conditions, Putin is planting a bomb under the Russian state. Inevitably, it will explode with great violence, causing massive destruction when the regime begins to fall apart.”

Wprost (PL) /

Putin will end up like Hitler

The Kremlin boss has paved the way for his own downfall, Wprost predicts:

“We should remember that even Stalin, the author of the greatest unleashing of Russian imperialism in history, never dared to seek a direct confrontation with the democratic West. Vladimir Putin has followed in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler, and that is more than a crime in the civilised world: it's a mistake. ... Today Putin can rejoice over the impression he has made across the world with his aggression against Ukraine. But that will be little consolation for him, because everyone already knows that he can't be trusted. Sooner or later he'll end up like Hitler, besieged in his bunker.”

Libération (FR) /

Inspiration from St. Petersburg

The people in Russia who are demonstrating against the war are setting an example for the rest of Europe, writes Dov Alfon, editor-in-chief of Libération:

“For many hours, Ukrainians probably felt terribly alone under the weight of the bombs. Then unexpected and potentially effective support came from Russia itself: thousands of Russians demonstrated against the war on Thursday evening. The images of brutal arrests in Saint-Petersburg, followed by no less courageous declarations of solidarity with the Ukrainian people from Russian artists, students and even TV celebrities suggest the possibility of an upsurge in Europe that is as unexpected as it is encouraging.”