Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen’s European dreams of Russia’s economic collapse have not come true. After all, the Kremlin has since 2014 prepared at least two plans and pursued them in parallel: a) good relations with the EU and NATO. And if they failed b) the preparation for the attack on Ukraine. Having failed the Minsk agreements where no one wanted to put Ukraine’s neutrality on paper, the Russians attacked.
If the Americans play poker, the Russians play chess. While in Ukraine the dead are no longer being counted. The Russians give the numbers, while the Ukrainians only talk about the Russian dead, at the moment the Russians are trying to advance on the Kreminna- Zaporizhizhia line, in Russia they are beginning to think about the next.
SberBank: opens branches in Crimea. The bank has already installed the first self-service devices on the peninsula and its network will be spread throughout Crimea by the end of the year. It is also preparing the opening of branches. Initially, they are scheduled to open in the largest cities; they will be opened by the end of the first half of the year.
According to experts, this decision by Sberbank will have a positive impact on the region. Crimean residents will have access to all banking services that they could not obtain before, while Sberbank’s presence will have a positive impact on the region’s economy.
Still on the financial topic, the Russian Central Bank announced that as of 18 January it will set the exchange rates of the rouble against 9 other foreign currencies, Thai Baht, Vietnamese Dong, Serbian Dinar, New Zealand Dollar, Georgian Lari, Indonesian Rupee, Egyptian Pound, Qatari Riyal, Indian Rupee, UAE Dirham. No more dollar; from now on, Russia and China will travel on their own with their currencies on foreign markets, and use their rating agencies to assess the economic health of the countries.
These Russian choices show that the Kremlin is now looking East and not West, where it will gradually leave its interests in the hands of the Turks, Qataris, and the United States, the first two of which are already business partners.
Russian President Vladimir Putin himself said at a meeting on economic issues: ‘The actual performance of the Russian economy in 2022 was better than many forecasts; Russia’s GDP in 2022 decreased by only 2.5%, while it was expected to fall by up to 20%; Russian defence companies operate in multiple shifts, some of them around the clock’.
He went on to say: ‘Many of the most important industrial sectors, such as construction, agriculture, industry, the military-industrial complex and others, not only did not decline last year, but despite unprecedented external pressure – on the contrary, they even increased in volume, creating new jobs. This maintained the stability of the labour market and reduced unemployment to the lowest level in recent history; several regions have problems with underemployment and wages. The government, together with the regions, must stimulate employment and wage growth, especially in regions where the problematic sectors of the economy are concentrated; there is every opportunity to do so. Oil production in 2022 increased by about 2% to 535 million tonnes despite sanctions. Inflation in Russia at the end of 2022 was 11.9 per cent, less than the Central Bank and the government predicted’.