The effects of the measures taken against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine could be compared to the receding of the sea before the arrival of a tsunami. Calm reigns, for the moment, in the supermarkets, and customers behave normally. But there is a palpable feeling that very soon the economy will be shaken to its foundations. The first indications are there: purchases that cannot be made because a bank has been sanctioned, transfers abroad have been blocked, and the word “contraband” is on everyone’s lips when it comes to goods which, until now, were part of everyday life.
“No more Apple products are sold, it’s completely forbidden,” says Antón, salesman at M.Video, an electronics channel. Standing, arms crossed, he answered the question of the price of an iMac computer. The US tech giant’s products are still on display in the store, but all of their price tags have been removed.
In addition to the sanctions put in place by the American and European authorities, more and more companies are deciding to cut their ties with Russia. Apple and Nike are among them. “We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all those who suffer as a result of the violence,” Apple said in a statement provided to the TechCrunch website earlier this week.
Some stores are resisting the decision, such as a point of sale for the operator MTS, which still sold Apple’s wireless headphones. But the company is not going back on its decision to leave Russia. It has also suspended its Apple Pay payment system, which can no longer be used, for example, on the subway.
“It’s very uncomfortable for me to talk about this situation, it’s unacceptable,” said Vladimir Viascheslavovich, a 30-something who is waiting for a friend in front of a store in Moscow. “All decent, normal people are against war. I don’t have a mortgage, but now it’s going to be very difficult to buy a house,” he told EL PAÍS.
If prices went from $2,000 to $15,000 per container in October, imagine how they will increase now…
Yulia, logistics employee
The Russian central bank raised interest rates from 9.5% to 20% after the announcement of sanctions, a figure unprecedented in the Russian Federation – even during the country’s financial crisis in 1998. “For the people Russian, not for politicians. , it’s going to be much worse than eight years ago,” adds Viascheslavovich, referring to the war in eastern Ukraine.
The disappearance of the iPhone is a striking example of this new Russian crisis. According to FinancialTimes, other American companies that symbolized the post-Soviet opening of the country, such as Levi Strauss and Coca-Cola, are still considering whether or not to leave the country. But the real blow could come from shipping companies whose names are less known to the general public: Maersk from Denmark, MSC from Italy and CMA CGM from France.
The three, which virtually monopolize the international container shipping industry, have decided to no longer send freight to Russia, a country where Maersk and MSC alone account for half of the domestic market. To understand the magnitude of this movement, the rise in inflation seen around the world since last year was due to a post-Covid increase in demand and the lack of transport. Today, Russia finds itself without ships to import goods from abroad.
“My company brings everything from China in containers,” says Yulia, who works in the logistics industry, and who spoke to EL PAÍS by phone. “It’s half of the logistics market, it won’t be possible to order anything in the short term. If prices went from $2,000 to $15,000 per container in October, imagine how they will increase now…”
March 12 is the deadline that has been set to disconnect Russian banks from the SWIFT system, a network that financial institutions use to securely transmit information and instructions. Not all banks will be disconnected, but the biggest ones will be. In response, the Russian government banned the transfer of funds to what it describes as “hostile countries” by foreigners in the country without permanent residence. This has caused huge concerns among many Spanish nationals, for example. Like many Russians on the street, they chose not to speak to EL PAÍS about the delicate situation the nation is currently going through.
“I came back from the pharmacy and they raised the prices of what I needed,” says Vadim, a retiree. “I imagine we will bring in products from other countries, like Latin America, but we are worse off now. Before at least, there was a chance that things would improve,” he adds, on his way to take the metro.
Vadim’s frustration with the new economic crisis is shared by young people like Vladimir, who don’t understand what the war was for. “To put it in a way, they all rejected us, all turned their backs on us.”