Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a swathe of sanctions being implemented against Russia over the past month, causing the rouble to collapse and severely hitting the national economy. Videos have been shared online showing locals in the Russian city of Saratov piling up behind a truck to buy sugar amid an ongoing shortage of the essential item. In another video, a supermarket worker can be seen appearing from the storeroom and pushing a shopping trolley full of sugar packs toward customers.
People are seen reaching in a panic at the cart to secure some of the packages, one woman putting several in her trolley.
Another woman can then be seen taking a hold of the trolley as the first lady tries to move away to grab a bag for herself.
Russian officials have been warning citizens for weeks not to panic buy, but the increasing number of videos showing people rushing to the supermarket appear to suggest their advice is being effectively ignored.
Only two weeks ago, long queues formed outside of Ikea and other leading Western-owned businesses to buy items before a majority of them shut down in protest against the invasion of Ukraine.
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The sanctions have delivered a hard blow to the Russian economy, causing the rouble to collapse and forcing the stock market to remain closed for days.
Economics Professor Ruben Enikolopov suggested the shortages are likely to be a short-term consequence of the sanctions but warned Russians could expect a more long-term effect on their quality of life.
Speaking to CNN, Prof Enikolopov said: “Most of the shortages are a temporary problem, so that will be solved and these goods will appear.
“There will be a very acute phase, then everything is fine. With the quality of life, actual real income, that is not that apparent yet.
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A senior US Treasury official said on Friday that punishing sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies on Moscow for invading Ukraine are pushing Russia into recession and starting to turn it back into a closed economy.
The anonymous official told reporters that the Treasury sees Russia as struggling with steep inflation, diminished exports, and shortages despite a recovery of its rouble against the dollar.
They dismissed the rebound as driven by stringent capital controls and foreign exchange curbs, not market forces.
Inflation that has run as high as 6 percent over the past three weeks is a better indication of the sanctions’ performance inside Russia, revealing the rouble’s diminished purchasing power, the official said, adding that black market rouble exchange rates were well below the international rate.