One thing is certain, the country has not suffered the” collapse “ announced by the French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, in the early hours of the invasion of Ukraine and the implementation of Western sanctions – amplified in ten successive waves since March 2022.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) created a surprise, at the end of January, by making a diagnosis that was as disappointing for Westerners as it was encouraging for Vladimir Putin: the recession was limited to −2.2% in 2022, far from the 8.5% reduction envisaged in March 2022; activity would increase by 0.3% in 2023 and 2.1% in 2024. Barring a sudden reversal in trend, these data would therefore confirm the country’s resistance to sanctions.
Several factors explain this apparent resilience, starting with the policy of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, which stabilized the ruble from the start of the war and avoided an inflationary surge. The country also has significant foreign exchange reserves drawn from black gold, despite the freezing of 300 billion dollars (about 281 billion euros) abroad. Since the sanctions taken after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, it has developed local production (food, textiles, etc.). Customs data also show a marked increase in imports transiting through former Soviet republics, such as Armenia and Kazakhstan.
The closure of submarine gas pipelines and the gradual drying up of land flows have not prevented the increase in gas revenues either, which stands at 80% (138 billion dollars). Nevertheless, the sinews of war remains black gold, the budget’s primary source of income. The IMF recognizes that the country has not yet been affected by the embargo on maritime cargoes, in force since December 5. They are redirected to its big neighbors refusing the sanctions (China, India, Turkey, etc.) or transhipped on ships with an unknown flag.