Some Moscow residents brace for tough driving as sanctions bite


MOSCOW, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Some Moscow residents said they had yet to feel the effects of sweeping Western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of neighboring Ukraine, while others braced for a grim economic downturn ahead.

The Russian ruble plunged 18% against the US dollar on Monday and the central bank more than doubled its benchmark rate to 20% in an emergency measure after the West imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow over the weekend .

“The economic situation here is going to get worse. It’s unavoidable under the circumstances,” Anastasiya said. “But it is still incomparable with the losses of people in Ukraine who die at home through the fault of our forces.”

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“We are in contact with our Ukrainian friends and I have no words that could comfort them,” she added, declining to give her last name.

There is no polling data yet on public opinion on the invasion of Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin described it as a special military operation, saying “neo-Nazis” rule Ukraine and threaten Russia’s security.

Ukraine and Western governments dismiss this as baseless propaganda, but the Kremlin line is faithfully reflected by state media, from which most Russians get their news.

The sanctions are widely expected to hit the economy hard and inflict pain on ordinary Russians, compounding years of stagnant or falling real wages and driving up inflation.

It remains unclear if this will undermine support for Putin or if he can get Russians to rally around the flag in the face of what he described as aggressive behavior from the West.

“Cars have become much more expensive… Prices are of course going up, savings are going down and stocks are falling,” said Anton, another Moscow resident.

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Editing by Mike Collett-White

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