Sanctions from EU hit Russians, economy threatened

The sanctions now hitting Russia are being described as economic war – they aim to isolate the country and create a deep recession there. Western leaders hope the unprecedented measures will bring about a change in thinking in the Kremlin.

Ordinary Russians face seeing their savings wiped out. Their lives are already being disrupted.

The sanctions against some Russian banks include cutting them off from Visa and Mastercard, and consequently Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Daria, 35, a project manager in Moscow, said this meant he’d been unable to use the metro.

“I always pay with my phone but it simply didn’t work. There were some other people with the same problem. It turned out that the barriers are operated by VTB bank which is under sanctions and cannot accept Google Pay and Apple Pay.

“I had to buy a metro card instead,” he told the BBC. “I also couldn’t pay in a shop today – for the same reason.”

On Monday Russia more than double its interest rate to 20 per cent in response to the sanctions after the trouble plunged to record new lows. The stock market remains closed amid fears of a massive share sell-off.

The Kremlin says it has enough resources to weather the sanctions, but this is debatable.

Over the weekend the central bank appealed for calm amid fears of a run on the banks, which happens when too many people try to withdraw money.

“There are no dollars, no roubles – nothing! Well, there are roubles but I am not interested in them,” said Anton (name changed), who is in his late 20s and was queuing at an ATM in Moscow.

“I don’t know what to do next. I am afraid we are turning into North Korea or Iran right now.”

Buying foreign currency costs Russians about 50% more than it did a week ago – if they can get hold of it at all.

At the start of 2022 one dollar traded for about 75 roubles and a euro for 80. But the war has helped set new records – at one point on Monday a dollar cost 113 roubles and a euro, 127. BBC

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