As the Russian economy continues to buckle down amidst the barrage of economic sanctions from the West, Moscow attempts to shift the narrative and blame the West for declaring “total war” against Russia.
“A real hybrid war, total war was declared on us,” claimed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a meeting last Friday.
After the start of Putin’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine last February, the West piled on stringent economic and fiscal sanctions on the Russian Federation to pressure the aggressor to pull out of the country.
The United States, the European Union, and other allies put together a package of sanctions designed to put a stranglehold on the Russian economy and its financial system. This included the following: (1) banning of key Russian imports, (2) abdication of some of the largest foreign investment holders from the country, (3) removal of specific Russian financial institutions from the SWIFT financial system, (4) and sanctions imposed on Putin himself and other Russian oligarchs.
Just weeks after the West impost sanctions, the Russian economy took a plunge it had not experienced since the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1950s. The value of the Russian Ruble dropped to a record low, equivalent to one US cent, as fears of inflation haunted Russian consumers.
Now, Moscow is trying to turn the table and claim that Russia is the one on the defensive against forces that allegedly seek “to destroy, break, annihilate, strangle the Russian economy, and Russia on the whole.”
Lavrov also issued a warning that Moscow had its own allies that it could count on.
“We have many friends, allies, partners in the world, a huge number of associations in which Russia is working with countries of all continents, and we will continue to do so,” said the Russian minister.
🇧🇷🇷🇺🇮🇳🇨🇳🇿🇦 On March 22, Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov met with the Moscow-accredited ambassadors from the #BRICS nations. The participants discussed: ✅ strengthening strategic #partnership ✅ promoting the five-way #dialogue In detail 👉 https://t.co/DkmD5ISoMZ pic.twitter.com/7kzOMvMNbt — BRICSRussia2020 (@BRICSRussia2020) March 23, 2022
This list of “allies” includes China, which has had close diplomatic ties with the Russian Federation. China itself has been on the receiving end of criticisms from the West as it refuses to sanction Russia for the invasion happening in Ukraine. It has also spoken in defense of the Russian invasion, saying that the US and NATO disregarded the Kremlin’s concerns over the latter’s expansion.
Despite the attempts to show off the supposed “limitless” partnership between the two world powers, Beijing has been lukewarm in actually saving Moscow from economic downfall. China is stuck between balancing its ties with its ally, Russia, and the West, who have a firm grip over its economy. Russia had also allegedly called on China for food and weapons as it was suffering from shortages in Ukraine, which then led to decreased morale among Russian troops. Chinese President Xi Jinping also has his own problems with China’s economic growth cooling off and would want to avoid suffering from similar sanctions imposed on Russia.
Moscow Tries to Bite Back
Russia announced on Monday that it is making preparations to restrict the entry of nationals from “unfriendly countries” into Russian territory.
“A draft presidential decree is being developed on retaliatory visa measures in response to the unfriendly actions of a number of foreign states,” said Lavrov in a televised statement. “This act will introduce a number of restrictions on entry into Russia.”
Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov says the country will soon restrict entry into the country for nationals of "unfriendly" countries pic.twitter.com/4LL59VkoQj — Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) March 29, 2022
The list will probably include those who imposed heavy sanctions on Russia, namely, the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the European Union, among others.
The ban is another attempt from the Kremlin to answer stringent restrictions on the country, including a ban on Russian aircraft to pass through the airspace of Europe and the United States, essentially blocking most of its Western air routes.
It can be remembered that Moscow has imposed sanctions on key US officials, including President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, and other officials of the administration. The list also includes Hunter Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
More Sanctions to Come
Despite the backlash from Russia, the US and its allies look to penalize Moscow for its war in Ukraine further. Biden flew to Brussels last week to talk to the leaders of the European Union, G7, and NATO to discuss plans centered on their response to the events in Ukraine.
The discussions will include possible contingencies in the event of a nuclear escalation, as well as “joint actions” on addressing Europe’s energy reliance on Russian gas, according to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
“He will have the opportunity to coordinate on the next phase of military assistance to Ukraine. He will join our partners in imposing further sanctions on Russia and tightening the existing sanctions to crack down on evasion and to ensure robust enforcement,” Sullivan told reporters.
Furthermore, US-Russia relations continue to take a turn for the worse as Biden had said in a speech in Poland that Putin “cannot remain in power.” The Kremlin replied that Biden and state leaders should “control his temper” and that each time Biden insults Putin, an opportunity to improve bilateral relations is lost.