How is that Kremlin bank account looking?

The editor of one of Russia’s most respected independent economic magazines grudgingly admits that Putin’s team is weathering the sanctions storm well.

“We’ve released some numbers for the first half of 2022 and the general feeling is much more optimistic than in March or April,” Peter Mironenko of “The Bell” told Fox News.

“We see the numbers. They are not manipulated. On the one hand, we see the economic downturn in the second quarter. GDP fell about 4% and in the third quarter we will have about 7%. This is recession. But the scale is much more modest than claimed three or four months ago.”

And less dramatically than in 2009 when there was no more war; it is also less than the Russian Central Bank’s initial forecast of a GDP decline of 8-10% this year. And there is more. According to Mironenko, household income has fallen by only 0.8%. At the moment there is even talk of deflation. Some people are simply deterred by the political situation from spending less and saving for an even rainier day.


There’s less foreign stuff for sale, so some Russians are writing that off, but imported items can still be bought — between brokers and the surprisingly strong ruble, Mironenko says an iPhone will cost you about the same as a year ago. He himself was shocked when he recently bought one for his father.

The government, he says, has wisely avoided price controls, even though everything else they do feels is going back to the USSR. Unemployment is at an all-time low. Some of this is artificial. The government has increased pensions and salaries since the start of the war because it can.

“The sanctions have not reduced the Russian budget’s revenue from oil exports, so the government has money,” said Mironenko, who recently went into exile over the enormous pressure on the press.

Olieopslagtanks staan ​​op maandag 23 maart 2020 bij de RN-Tuapsinsky-raffinaderij, geëxploiteerd door Rosneft Oil Co., terwijl tankers voorbij zeilen in Toeapse, Rusland, op maandag 23 maart 2020. Belangrijke olievaluta's zijn deze maand veel meer gedaald na de duik in Brent-olie prijzen tot minder dan $30 per vat, met een daling van de Russische roebel met 15%.  Fotograaf: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images <span class="auteursrechten">Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images</span>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTM5Nw–/ 1.2/cw.2vy26VPEQCOtzEsGBVw–~B/aD03MjA7dz0xMjgwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/″ad0ca><noscript><img alt=Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTM5Nw–/ cw.2vy26VPEQCOtzEsGBVw–~B/aD03MjA7dz0xMjgwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/″/ca06as-img”

Oil storage tanks line up at the RN-Tuapsinsky refinery operated by Rosneft Oil Co. on Monday, March 23, 2020, as tankers sail past in Tuapse, Russia, on Monday, March 23, 2020. Major oil currencies have fallen much more this month after the plunge. in Brent oil prices are below $30 a barrel, with the Russian ruble falling 15%. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“It will (have money) in 2022 and in 2023, and as we know Vladimir Putin’s government was historically also very good, very careful with people’s personal income. His whole ‘prosperity legend’ is based on the constant increase of people’s personal income Since 2000, it has been very much linked to rising oil prices.”

But either way, Mironenko adds, Putin has to keep that prosperity project going, and as long as Moscow has the money, it will spend it to keep the Russians in line.


How long will that be, I ask Mironenko? He admits sanctions work in theory, but he says: “It’s a long process. Historically, there aren’t many examples where even the toughest sanctions work in a year. I don’t think we’ll see them.” securities policy changes before three to five years.”

The energy dance is a tricky one, according to Mironenko, who explains that oil is more important than gas to the Russian treasury, so in a sense a commodity to play with.

De Spasskaya-toren van het Kremlin en de St. Basil's Cathedral worden gezien door het kunstobject in het Zaryadye-park in Moskou, Rusland, 15 maart 2022. (REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo) <span class="auteursrechten">(REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File photo)</span>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTM5Nw–/ 0Pt_qkIESz0spXnNom2e4A–~B/aD03MjA7dz0xMjgwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/><noscript><img alt=(REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File photo)” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTM5Nw–/ -~B/aD03MjA7dz0xMjgwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/” class=”caas-img”/>

The Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower and St. Basil’s Cathedral are seen through the art object in Zaryadye Park in Moscow, Russia, March 15, 2022. (REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo) (REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File photo)

Vladimir Putin started a game of reducing gas flow to Europe, ostensibly to see if that would make Brussels nervous enough to ease sanctions. Pain, apparently worth it for now. But if the European ban on Russian oil goes into effect at the end of the year, there could be a real flare-up of distress in Russia, and Mironenko will be watching that moment closely.

Meanwhile, when it comes to public opinion, it’s not just the propaganda-sucking mob in Russia that blames the West for all the misery they’re experiencing, even if the economy is apparently for the time being — perhaps artificially strong. It is more difficult to live a life that is connected to the outside world and for many educated and democratically minded Russians that is vital.

Mironenko says there is a lot of anger among those who feel left out of the West and also a lot of discussion about how and where you should live your life from a moral perspective. So even though the economy is pretty solvent right now, a lot of Russians are dragging a lot of Russians down.

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