Putin believes sanctions the West will grow ‘exhausted’ from its economic battle against Russia: report
When Russian forces, on orders from President Vladimir Putin, launched a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine on February 24, he was obviously hoping to seize control of the country as quickly as possible. But for all the misery that Putin and the Kremlin have inflicted on Ukraine, the war has not gone well for Russia.
The Ukrainian military have been relentless and skillful fighters, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to keep fighting to the bitter end, thousands of Russian troops have been killed, and U.S. President Joe Biden and the United States’ NATO allies have aggressively imposed economic sanctions against Russia. Moreover, the invasion may have the unintended consequence of expanding NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) if more European countries, including Sweden and Finland, end up joining the alliance.
Biden has adamantly maintained that there will be no U.S. troops putting boots on the ground in Ukraine, although he has vowed to keep punishing Russia economically. But Putin, according to Washington Post reporter Catherine Belton, is hoping that the West will grow tried of its economic battle against the Kremlin.
Belton, in an article published by the Post on June 3, reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin is digging in for a long war of attrition over Ukraine and will be relentless in trying to use economic weapons, such as a blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, to whittle away Western support for Kyiv, according to members of Russia’s economic elite. The Kremlin has seized on recent signs of hesitancy by some European governments as an indication the West could lose focus in seeking to counter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially as global energy costs surge following the imposition of sanctions on Moscow.”
An anonymous Post source described by Belton as a “well-connected Russian billionaire” told the Post that Putin “believes the West will become exhausted” and “believes that in the longer term, he will win.”
According to Belton, “This posture suggests that the Kremlin believes it can outlast the West in weathering the impact of economic sanctions…. The Kremlin’s aggressive stance seems to reflect the thinking of Nikolai Patrushev, the hawkish head of Russia’s Security Council, who served with Putin in the Leningrad KGB and is increasingly seen as a hardline ideologue driving Russia’s war in Ukraine.”
Patrushev, Belton notes, believes that the millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing to other European countries will make those countries weary of fighting Russia economically.
Patrushev recently told the government-operated Russian newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, “The world is gradually falling into an unprecedented food crisis. Tens of millions of people in Africa or in the Middle East will turn out to be on the brink of starvation — because of the West. In order to survive, they will flee to Europe. I’m not sure Europe will survive the crisis.”
But Belton points out that Elvira Nabiullina, who heads the Russian Central Bank, is warning that the effect of sanctions will grow even more painful for the Russian economy in the months ahead.
“A ban on high-tech imports is only just beginning to bite, while shortages of some goods are only now beginning to be seen,” Belton observes. “Inflation is set to exceed 20%, and Russia is facing its deepest recession in 30 years. Putin’s attempt to protect the population against inflation, estimated at 18%, by ordering a 10% hike in pensions and the minimum wage falls far short.”
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