Russians start feeling the heat of sanctions

Washington DC: While Russian troops continue trying to seize Kyiv for a week, the ordinary Russians are feeling the painful effects of economic sanctions— from payment systems that won’t operate and problems withdrawing cash to not being able to purchase certain items.

The United States and other Western nations have hit Russia with sanctions of unprecedented breadth and severity. They have thrown major Russian banks off the SWIFT international payment system, limited high-tech exports to Russia, and severely restricted Moscow’s use of its foreign currency reserves.

Apple has announced that it would stop selling its iPhone and other popular products in Russia along with limiting services like Apple Pay as part of a larger corporate backlash to protest the invasion.

Dozens of foreign and international companies have pulled their business out of Russia. Major car brands halted exports of their vehicles; Boeing and Airbus suspended supply of aircraft parts and service to Russian airlines; major Hollywood studios halted their film releases, and the list will likely keep growing.

Irina Biryukova in Yaroslavl, in a city about 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow, said she could only deposit a limited amount of money into her bank account through the bank ATMs. “The majority of ATMs (of this bank) don’t work to deposit (money),” Biryukova told AP.

Food prices, according to some businesses, have started soaring, too.

Kremlin critics are painting a bleak picture for Russia.  “We’re facing growing prices, mass layoffs, delays in payment of benefits or pensions,” opposition politician Yulia Galyamina wrote on Facebook Wednesday. “There is a shortage of medicines and medical equipment. We’ll be remembering the 1990s as hardly the worst time. But I have only one question: for what?”

Anti-war sentiment in Russia has been widespread. Thousands of people have signed open letters and online petitions demanding to stop the invasion, with the most widely supported online petition garnering over 1 million signatures in several days.

Russians across the country have been taking to the streets almost every day since the attack started last Thursday. More than 7,000 protesters have been detained in the past week, according to OVD-Info, a rights group that tracks political arrests, with nearly 600 arrests taking place on Thursday.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: AP)

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