The mighty Russian economy

Paul Fiolkowski
7 min readJun 11, 2023

Right now, Russia is losing 1 billion dollars daily — they’ve lost US $70 billion cash in the budget in 70 days.

  • Over the last year, prices for Russian oil dropped by 46%.
  • The average price of Russian oil in March 2023 was $47.85 per barrel, which is 1.86 times lower than in the same period last year, when it cost $89 per barrel.
  • Compared to February 2023, March oil prices dropped by 3.5%.
  • The average price for the first quarter of 2023 was $49 per barrel compared to $89 in January-March 2022.
  • The federal budget of the Russian Federation for 2023 is based on the forecasted average annual price of oil at $70.1 per barrel.
  • To fill the massive hole in the budget, the government is selling off the remaining reserves in Chinese yuan.

Joe Bloggs has a very nice summary of the Russian economy ab=nd how it is impacted by oil prices:

Russia already made 1/3 of budget expenses classified and stopped releasing a lot of statistics on economy and demographics, so they will probably soon stop publishing data on available cash reserves as well.

Switching the economy to working for the war is expensive: Not only the troops need to be paid, but logistics, medics, manufacturers of food, weapons and clothing as well.

The other day Russia’s prime minister Mishustin signed the decree, according to which Military-Industrial Council of Russia, headed by Putin himself (Dmitry Medvedev is his deputy chief), has the decisive say in managing companies producing weapons, munitions, food and other stuff for the war.

Putin is prepared to sacrifice anything to keep his war in Ukraine going: economy, lifestyle, people.

He believes that the West will get tired of supporting Ukraine and decides to cut its losses, and then he can win. Russians just have to endure a bit more.

In Moscow, pensioners wait at the back door of a supermarket for expired produce. Some are digging in the bin.

That’s “prosperous” Moscow with pensions double the size of those in regions.

No one in Russia is surprised seeing pensioners — who own their homes outright, they aren’t homeless — fighting over “prosrochka” (food with expired “sell by” dates).

In some cities, such food is sold at discount prices — after the buyers sign a release that they won’t have claims about the quality.

People are not buying it for their dogs — they are buying it for themselves. They have nothing to eat.

That’s federal road M-7, 40 km from Moscow.

It used to be lucrative for contractors to rebuild roads near Moscow once a year: build an inferior road and you’ll get the contract to do it again the next year. Win-win for the contractor and the official who picks him.

Now there is simply no money for that. The money is spent on building residential buildings in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Russia bombed Mariupol into ruins, and Putin told his ministers to rebuild it. Building contracts in Mariupol are some of the most lucrative, and construction workers who are sent there earn a few times the wage they can get in St. Petersburg.

Imagine what amounts of budget money are going there.

Russia took Mariupol in May 2022.
This is how the city looks in April 2023.

Whole apartment blocks are cleared.

Dogs. They lost their owners and their homes. Now, a year after, they know that their owners aren’t coming back.

Mariupol drama theatre.
Russian pilots bombed it.

Over 600 people, mostly kids, elderly and women, died in the blast. Many died buried alive in the basement, as it wasn’t possible to provide emergency assistance under constant shelling.

After checking for damages, Russian builders decided to keep the facade of the theatre and demolish most of the building.

They didn’t exhumate the bodies from the basements. Just packed the ruins into trucks and dumped in the outskirts of the city.

The builders are walking on the mixture of concrete and dead bodies. They are not concerned.

What they are concerned about is rebuilding the theatre quickly. Vladimir Putin said that Russia would rebuild the city better than it was before.

It would take decades, but tsar’s whims are the law. No matter the cost.

Meanwhile, in the town of Votkinsk, Russia, people recorded a video appeal for Vladimir Putin: They are waiting for 35 years for a road to be built. But so far, only promises and the local authorities are unresponsive.

35 years of promises”, “Walking in the dirt”, the handmade signs say.

Their appeal to Vladimir Putin worked.

A plain clothes FSB officer knocked on the door of the activist who read the appeal on camera, saying that she needs to arrive for questioning and explain her political dissent.

”What politics?” the lady said. “It’s life!”

”You still need to come in and explain yourself,” the visitor insisted.

Only traitors complain about “life” when the country is at war and it’s time to get united around the supreme leader, who takes Russia from strength to strength.

Why complain now, if you’ve been already waiting for 35 years? Did CIA pay you to do it?

In Bryansk region (Russia) a village got flooded in the spring flood caused by the melting snow that overfilled the nearby river.

People pulled their boats to move around.

But the local administration said that they were not allowed to use their own boats, and would face heavy fines if they continued doing it.

The angry villagers talked to the rep of the local administration that the situation was unbearable, but she just giggled.

Are you serious, guys? That’s your problem when the country is fighting NATO?

Public officials and administration don’t care. As long as they support Putin’s “special military operation”, they are safe in their jobs.

It’s only those who are against the war in Ukraine that are arrested. Your job performance is irrelevant: what is essential, it’s loyalty.

Russia is slowly going broke economically, but it’s already morally bankrupt.

The wives of Russian pilots who bombed the Mariupol Drama Theater, made photos in jackets of their husbands, decorated with medals.

Ukrainian hackers located the wife of the commander and contacted her by email, persuading to do a group photo session, saying it was for a patriotic calendar.

Vanity won: Women made photos and sent them.

On the background, military planes can be seen, marked with the letter “Z” over the red star.

Now the names of all the executioners of more than 600 people in the basement of the Mariupol drama theater are known to the Ukrainian intelligence services.

The main criminal is Colonel Atroshchenko: He was the one who gave the order to bomb the theatre that had the word “Children” written in huge letters.

Hundreds of young women who look very similar to these in the photo died as the result of this order.

But the girls in the photo aren’t angry about that. They are angry that their faces were plastered over Ukrainian social media along with their names.

This photo was made in Grozny, Chechnya, in 2005, near the courthouse.

Journalists Anna Politkovskaya, Stanislav Markelov, Natalya Estemirova. They were writing about war crimes of the Russian army and FSB in Chechnya. All three of them were killed.

For years, Putin’s regime was murdering people in Russia. It became more insatiable with impunity for its crimes.

This is why this time the criminals must be brought to justice. For something good to happen in Russia, it must first repent.

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Paul Fiolkowski

I am just another American expat, who found that yes indeed, the grass can be greener elsewhere.