Richmond World Affairs Council

Putin’s Russia, Part I: Economic Woes

Today, I’m going to elaborate on a post that got a lot of attention recently on our Facebook page:
Russia has been in an economic recession due to Western sanctions and the decline in oil prices–however, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has reached an all-time high, with 9 out of 10 Russians approving of him. Why is there such strong support for the brusque authoritative president when economic performance has been steadily decreasing? To learn more, read here: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/5-things-you-need-know-about-putins-popularity-russia-13380?page=2
Russia’s role in propagating the Ukraine Crisis has caused the United States and the European Union to slap it with crippling sanctionsagainst Russian senior officials and businesses. Limitations on trade and the transfer of capital between Russia and its Western partners have severely restricted the flow of capital in the Russian economy.
Moreover, the US’ booming fracking industry has gutted the international supply of oil. In order to keep up with the US and maintain their positions in the global oil market, OPEC members, led by Saudi Arabia, have upped their oil production as well. All this overproduction has created an oversupply of oil that has consequently driven down oil prices and drastically reduced the revenue Russia earns from its energy export-dependent economy.
All in all, the Western sanctions and decline in oil prices have caused Russia’s GDP growth to decline dramatically. Last year, the Russian ruble sunk by over 40%, and its economy shrunk by about 3% this year.


A sad Putin

So Russia is sliding into economic decline, but why does political support for Putin remain high amidst the economic downturn?
To truly understand the average Russian’s mindset, we have to examine the historical. political, and social frameworks that have shaped their way of life and observing the world.
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Stay tuned for more!

-Shrina Patel