Wednesday, January 10, 2024

To Pay for War, Putin Slashes Budget for Communal Services, leaving Thousands of Russians in the Cold and Dark -- and Some without Food

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 8 – In an abnormally cold winter when tens if not hundreds of thousands of Russians are doing without heat and light and when experts say the situation is likely to get even worse, Vladimir Putin is slashing funds for repair of heating and electric networks in order to pay for his war in Ukraine.

            The number of breakdowns in communal heating and electric services is surging. In 2021, there were 2900 of these across Russia, but by 2023, there were 4900. And in the last ten days, there have been so many that the figure for 2024 will be far higher still (

            Despite that, the Putin government has announced plans to cut spending on the repair and upgrading of communal services over the next two years by more than 50 percent, from 886 billion rubles to 381 billion rubles (8.7 billion US dollars to 3.8 billion) (

            Such cuts will mean not only that there won’t be any effort to address underlying problems created because Moscow has not kept up spending in this area in the past but even that there won’t be sufficient funds to deal with many specific cases, leaving ever larger numbers of Russians without heat and light.

            What the Russian government is doing is shifting the cost of such maintenance and upgrades to the population; but in Russia’s climatic conditions, that means that pensioners often have to spend more than a third of their incomes now on such services, leaving them without food and clothing (

            In the face of this mounting tragedy, the Kremlin insists that it is doing all it can, although it admits that not all the problems Russians face in this area are going to be solved anytime soon ( And that in turn is certainly leading more than a few Russians to conclude that the only “solution” will be the arrival of warmer weather.


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