Ukraine war – voices and developments: Putin praises Russia’s economy – but the problems are growing.
At the economic forum in St. Petersburg, the head of the Kremlin and warlord Putin wants to demonstrate how successful Russia is in defying Western sanctions. The largest Russian unit was badly hit in a Ukrainian Himars attack. All the latest news about the war against Ukraine in the ticker.
Putin praises Russia’s economy – but the problems are growing
Friday, June 16, 6:15 a.m.: At the 26th International Economic Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to show off that his country allegedly does not depend on partners from the USA and Europe.
The organizers proudly announce on Telegram that a total of 17,000 people from 130 countries have confirmed their participation in the forum, which has been running since last Wednesday. What is not mentioned, however, is that many western journalists were denied accreditation this year. Instead, photos are shown of panel discussions, foreign delegations and a robot that makes ice cream.
Since the beginning of the war, Putin has never tired of emphasizing that Russia is not only defying the Western punitive measures, but is allegedly even emerging from it stronger and more independent. Moscow is also happy to use statistics to support this argument, the validity of which critics classify as at least questionable. For example, it is true that unemployment in Russia recently reached a historic low of 3.3 percent. But a major reason for this is the mass flight of young Russians in particular from Putin’s mobilization since last fall. Another that hundreds of thousands are actually at the front lines. Since then, there have not only been few unemployed in many places – but also too few skilled workers.
On the whole, the Russian economy has indeed adapted surprisingly well and quickly to the sanctions. Russian business people are tough and capable of surviving, according to the renowned Moscow economist Natalia Subarevich. At least in everyday life, bottlenecks in the supply are not noticeable. There is currently no shortage of groceries or hip summer clothing in Moscow shops.
The new regulations of the Russian government on “parallel import” also helped. Accordingly, goods can be imported into Russia without the permission of the trademark owner – often via third countries. These opened up new niches for the business. And so the computers no longer come from Europe, but from the Central Asian Kyrgyzstan or Armenia in the South Caucasus, cars and machines from Turkey and Kazakhstan – and of course a lot of goods from China.
From the Russian point of view, however, the enormously increased dependency on China is problematic. A quarter of Russia’s foreign trade now runs through its neighbors in the south-east. For exports – especially raw materials – it is about 20 percent, for imports even more than 30 percent. That makes Russia vulnerable.
A look at the various Russian industries also reveals an ambivalent picture. On the one hand there are real war winners: in regions with a strong armaments industry – for example the Urals – the economic engine is humming. But by no means all sectors were able to adapt successfully after the departure of western partners. Above all, the auto industry is still deep in the crisis. Attempts to conceal this backfire: The restart of the Soviet brand Moskvich, which was celebrated by the state media last winter, ultimately turned out to be a copy of the Chinese small car JAC JS4.
After the exodus of Western companies, there are also enormous problems with the production of household appliances and tools. While retail has built new supply chains, consumption remains weak. After last year’s surge in inflation, many people simply don’t have the money to buy anything else besides groceries.
And last but not least, there are many question marks hanging over the Russian state budget. The minus in the cash register is significantly higher than originally estimated. Oil and gas revenues, which were still bubbling up last year, have fallen noticeably in the face of the EU embargo and price cap. The government’s plan to at least partially plug the budget gap with a special corporate tax is causing a stir among Russian entrepreneurs. At the end of June, the State Duma intends to vote on this “war tax”, which should bring in a total of 300 billion rubles (3.3 billion euros).
For the current year, the money will probably be enough to finance the individual regions – including the newly annexed and badly damaged Ukrainian regions of Cherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk and Luhansk, which gobble up a quarter of the regional subsidies. Especially with a view to the presidential election that is coming up next year, it is important to reliably pay teachers and civil servants their salaries and to keep them happy.
According to the expert Subarevich, many national projects, which are used to finance education and construction projects, for example, are threatened with extinction in the longer term. But it was precisely they that served the development of infrastructure and the economy. Russia’s gap to Western industrialized countries is therefore likely to increase significantly in the coming years.
Ukraine destroys five Russian howitzers with Himar’s strike
2:57 p.m.: As part of a military operation, Ukraine used the Himar multiple rocket launcher to destroy five Russian self-propelled howitzers. This is shown in a video published on Telegram on June 14.
The military strike against Russian artillery took place in the north-east of Yalynskye in Donetsk Oblast. The destroyed self-propelled howitzers were reportedly MSTA-S, 152mm self-propelled self-propelled howitzers. They are an extremely mobile and robust artillery companion, designed to function well under heavy enemy fire.
However, with a range of 29 to 36 kilometers, the howitzers do not reach the range of the Himar multiple rocket launcher. With a maximum range of 70 to 90 kilometers and guided missiles, the Western system far outperforms and can destroy the Russian howitzer. Drones were also used in the mission both for reconnaissance and for checking the battle damage.
Drone strikes reported in southern Ukraine and Crimea
09:26: Russia has fired at Ukraine in fresh airstrikes with drones and cruise missiles. Three cruise missiles hit industrial sites in the Dnipropetrovsk region, the Ukrainian Air Force announced in Kiev on Thursday. A 38-year-old man was injured in the town of Kryvyi Rih in the region, authorities said. The city has been the target of Russian attacks in the past. After an attack on Tuesday, 12 people died there.
In the new air alert in Ukraine, the air defense shot down most of the objects, including once again 20 drones, according to Kiev. In Odessa on the Black Sea alone, 13 drones were destroyed.
The authorities on the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, reported Ukrainian drone attacks again in the morning. Most of the nine drones were shot down. A drone exploded in a village where windows shattered from houses. Crimea governor Sergey Aksyonov said there were no injuries. The peninsula is repeatedly attacked by the Ukrainian side. Kiev has announced that it wants to recapture Crimea.
According to the General Staff in Kiev on Thursday, the Ukrainian counter-offensive focused on the Bakhmut regions in the Donetsk region and in the direction of Berdyansk in the Zaporizhia region. Most recently, the troops had gained ground and freed several towns from the Russian occupation.
Selenskyj in front of the Swiss Parliament – right-wing MPs stay away
08.06: Around a quarter of the seats in the video message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in front of both chambers of the Swiss Parliament are likely to remain empty on Thursday. The right-wing conservative SVP with the most votes has confirmed that its deputies will largely stay away. She regards Zelenskyj’s speech as an interference in Swiss politics.
Selenskyj is likely to come to speak of the ban on the transfer of armaments made in Switzerland. Switzerland justifies this with its neutrality. “We have to be careful that we don’t gradually slip deeper and deeper into this conflict,” said SVP parliamentary group leader Thomas Aeschi to the broadcaster SRF.
A debate is raging in Switzerland about the 200-year-old neutrality. Referring to this, she has so far banned Germany and other countries from passing on armaments bought in Switzerland years ago to Ukraine.
Above all, Green and Social Democrat MEPs advocate restricting neutrality if the UN Security Council or a large majority of the United Nations have condemned an attack as contrary to international law. This is the case with Ukraine. This is unacceptable for the SVP.
After all, the National Council has just set the course for Switzerland to be able to sell back 25 of its 96 decommissioned Leopard 2 tanks to Germany. Berlin wants to upgrade them and pass them on to Ukraine.
The tanks must be formally decommissioned by Parliament. Supporters in the large parliamentary chamber, the National Council, won a vote on Wednesday with 132 to 59 votes. However, the second chamber still has to vote on this. The government then has the last word. She signaled approval.
After Himar’s attack on Russia’s largest unit, military bloggers are stunned
06:54: With a Himars attack, Ukraine hit Russia’s largest unit in Kreminna in the Luhansk Oblast on Wednesday. This was reported by the Moscow Times. It’s not yet clear how many have died, but military bloggers say there may be a few. And bloggers are furious about the incident. This is evident from numerous posts on Telegram and other social networks. The main reason: the soldiers should have waited for their commander.
The military blogger Rybar wrote: “For two hours the soldiers stood in a crowd in one place and waited for the division commander to give his motivational speech.” Then the Himar attack took place. According to Rybar, more people have died than in the fighting in the region over the past few days combined.
“You can’t stand in a column in one place for two hours,” raged another military blogger, known as Two Majors. And he elaborates: “We are at war with our own stupidity and sloppiness.”
Another blogger goes even further and calls for the commander to be shot. Several Russian bloggers reportedly began blaming Russia’s high general, Suhrab Akmedov, shortly after the incident. He had previously commanded a naval brigade that had written an open letter to the Russian government about their high losses under Akmedov.