The lines for sugar in Saratov were hard not to compare to the Soviet era, part of a recent run on Russian staples that have revived fears that the Kremlin’s invasion in Ukraine will lead to a virtual slide back to the shortages or endless queues of the Soviet Union.
Bags of sugar and buckwheat began disappearing from local markets in early March, just a week after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. And when the local mayor’s office announced that it would hold special markets for people to buy the staples last week, hundreds showed up.
The sudden shortages are a first taste of what is going to be a hard year for Russia, marked by a massive economic contraction, high inflation and an unprecedented cutting off from the world for a globalised economy.
“I think we are steadily going back to a USSR,” said Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist for the Institute of International Finance, indicating the Russian government would likely continue to close off from the world economy. “I’m not seeing it as a temporary shock and then we’re going to go back to the liberal democracy and reintegration into the world, unless there is a change in government.”
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