Ordinary Russians are suffering the consequences of the West’s sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, from payment systems that won’t work to difficulty withdrawing cash to being unable to buy particular things.
“Apple Pay hasn’t worked since yesterday,” says the user. It was hard to pay with it anyplace – on a bus, at a café,” Tatyana Usmanova, a Moscow resident, told The Associated Press. “Plus, at one supermarket, the number of critical commodities that one individual could purchase was limited.”
As part of a bigger business backlash in response to the invasion, Apple said that it will stop selling the iPhone and other popular goods in Russia, as well as limit services like Apple Pay.
Hundreds of European and multinational corporations have withdrawn their operations from Russia. Big automobile manufacturers have discontinued exports; Boeing and Airbus have paused supplies of aircraft components and services to Russian airlines; major Hollywood studios have halted film releases; and the list is certain to increase.
This is on top of the sanctions imposed by the US and other Western nations on Russia, which are unparalleled in scope and severity. They’ve kicked big Russian banks off the SWIFT international payment system, blocked high-tech exports to Russia, and severely hindered Moscow’s ability to utilise its foreign currency reserves.
Russians in Moscow and other cities told The Associated Press about how the changes have affected their everyday life, including difficulties changing rubles into foreign cash, long queues at ATMs, and the failure of some bank cards.
Irina Biryukova, who lives in Yaroslavl, roughly 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow, said she could only deposit a certain amount of money into her bank account using bank ATMs.
“The bulk of this bank’s ATMs don’t operate for depositing money,” Biryukova explained.
According to several firms, food costs have also begun to rise.
“All of the primary materials we need to make our items have gone up in price by 30-40%,” said Ilya Oktavin, who manages a Perm sushi bar’s delivery service.
Certain items are also more difficult to get by as a result of moves by firms like Nike, which ceased online sales on Tuesday night after announcing on its website that it “can’t guarantee delivery of the goods to buyers in Russia.” H&M stated on Wednesday that “all sales” in the nation will be halted.
Critics of the Kremlin present a dismal image of Russia.
“We’re dealing with rising costs, huge layoffs, and delays in benefit or pension payments,” opposition legislator Yulia Galyamina said on Facebook on Wednesday. “Medicines and medical equipment are in short supply. The fleet of cars and planes is aging and decrepit. The 1990s will not be remembered as the worst decade of our lives. But there is only one question on my mind: “for what?”
Russian officials developed a special website named “We’re explaining” on Tuesday in what appeared to be an effort to forestall panic. The website discusses how many aspects of life are operating under the burden of sanctions. Worrying claims, such as those predicting a price increase or claiming that specific services aren’t working, are refuted as “false” on the website.
Meanwhile, other Russians say they are more concerned about the fatal strike Russia launched on a neighboring nation than the sanctions.
“You know, sanctions are the thing that bothers me the least. “I’m concerned about Russia killing people in Ukraine,” said Ivan Kozlov, a Moscow resident. “I wish it would end the conflict that no sane person in Russia who has a conscience and is capable of empathy and compassion desires.”
In Russia, anti-war sentiment is common. Thousands of individuals have written open letters and online petitions calling for the invasion to be stopped, with the most popular online campaign amassing over 1 million signatures in only a few days.
Since the attack began last Thursday, Russians around the country have taken to the streets practically every day. According to OVD-Info, a rights organisation that analyzes political arrests, more than 7,000 protestors have been detained in the last week, with about 600 arrests occurring on Wednesday.