Staunton, Nov. 24 – Despite Moscow’s celebration of increases in Russia’s GDP, most of which reflect new military spending (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/11/moscows-military-spending-boosts.html), the real situation of Russians is far less bright, with flat or falling incomes, the disappearance of products from stores, and steep prices rises for those that remain.
Some products – especially fruit that is not grown in Russia such as bananas -- are disappearing because they have become too expensive to import – but others – like bread products – are rapidly rising in price because producers of wheat are exporting enormous quantities.
This is attracting enormous attention and generating anger among many Russians (svpressa.ru/economy/article/395683/, rosbalt.ru/russia/2023/11/23/1998760.html and rbc.ru/newspaper/2023/11/24/655e21339a7947061d64db3c). Moscow’s response has been denial and talk of export restrictions (1prime.ru/consumer_markets/20231101/842147203.html).
But restricting exports of grain – Moscow sold 60 million tons of grain abroad last year – will only exacerbate downward pressure on the ruble, something the Kremlin hopes to avoid. But fears that the current situation could deteriorate and that Russians at least in some places may have difficulty getting food are driving official reactions behind the scenes.
However, in the view of some commentators, the government has no plan and is only reacting which means that whatever it does will be too little too late and have unintended consequences. As a result, they say, “judging by the dynamics of what is happening, the worst is yet to come” (svpressa.ru/economy/article/395683/).