7 unexpected ways Western sanctions have affected life in Russia

7 unexpected ways Western sanctions have affected life in Russia

Western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine may not have resulted in the dramatic economic collapse that some had predicted, but they still had a huge impact.

Russia is now the most sanctioned country in the world and shortages of goods, limited access to services and other restrictions are slowly changing everyday life in sometimes surprising ways – from altered candy recipes and slower internet speeds to closed crematoriums and fewer buses.

Nine months after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, we have identified seven unexpected ways in which sanctions have made themselves felt:

Change candy recipes

										 					Kirill Zykov / Moscow News Agency

Kirill Zykov / Moscow News Agency

The head of a confectionery factory in the city of Perm, in the Ural Mountains, said in October that the factory, one of the largest in the region, had been forced to change the recipes of some of its products after Western sanctions halted imports of key ingredients.

“There are raw materials that objectively cannot be produced in Russia. For example, cocoa beans do not grow here,” Boris Shvaytser said in a interview with local media 59.ru. “[Obtaining] many components became problematic.

In addition to changing recipes, the factory, according to Shvaytser, was also forced to look for new equipment after Italian, German and British suppliers broke off cooperation.

slow mobile internet

										 					Sergei Kiselev / Moskva News Agency

Sergei Kiselev / Moskva News Agency

LTE mobile Internet speed in Russia decreased by an average of 0.6 megabits per second compared to the same period last year, according to a March study published by Russian news analysis agency TelecomDaily.

And internet speed issues are expected worsen as the exit of European telecom giants – including Nokia and Ericsson – makes it more difficult to modernize Russian networks.

Some Russian mobile operators have reallocated frequencies used for 3G networks to LTE cellular services, according to pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia reported last month. But the tactic is unlikely to solve the long-term problem, experts say.

Closed crematoriums

					Voronezh crematorium.  Oleg Kharseev / Kommersant

Voronezh crematorium.
Oleg Kharseev / Kommersant

A prime crematorium in the southwestern city of Voronezh was forced to close this month after its only cremation chamber – produced in the Czech Republic – broke down.

It is unclear whether it will be able to reopen because the faulty oven cannot be replaced due to a European Union ban on exporting high-tech products to Russia.

Russian specialists and representatives of Czech cremation equipment supplier Tabo-CS are working on repairing the furnace but do not know how long it will take, according to the Voronezh-based news site De Facto.

According to its website, Tabo-CS cremation equipment is used in dozens of other cities across Russia, including St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk.

Fewer buses

										 					Moskva News Agency

Moskva News Agency

Local transport operators in 84 Russian cities have canceled up to 200 bus and trolleybus lines this year, according to to research by the modeling company Simetra.

One of the reasons for these changes is sanctions-related supply chain disruptions which, in turn, have impacted Russian automakers.

Work at the Tikhvin freight car-building plant in the Leningrad region, for example, was put on hold for more than two months over the summer due to a shortage of American-made ball bearings essential to the manufacturing process.

Id Card U-turn

										 					Sophia Sandurskaya / Moskva News Agency

Sophia Sandurskaya / Moskva News Agency

Russian authorities have been looking to replace the country’s internal passport system with a digital national ID card since at least 2013 – and new plastic cards have even been released. due to be tested in certain regions this year. But Western sanctions forced authorities to freeze the project indefinitely.

One of the reasons for the U-turn is that Russia cannot produce enough chips and plastic to make the cards, Forbes Russia reported in June.

empty buildings

					The financial district of Moscow.  Sergei Kiselev / Moskva News Agency

The financial district of Moscow.
Sergei Kiselev / Moskva News Agency

The number of vacant spaces in Russian office buildings and shopping centers continues to grow due to the exit of large foreign retailers.

The share of vacant space in shopping centers in the capital Moscow is expected to reach 17% by the end of the year, according to data from real estate consultancy NF Group reported by the Russian business daily Kommersant earlier this month.

And 12% of office buildings in Moscow will be empty by the end of the year, according to a representative of the CORE.XP consulting firm quoted by Kommersant.

Poorly trained pilots

										 					Alexander Avilov / Moskva News Agency

Alexander Avilov / Moskva News Agency

Airline pilots in Russia have fewer training options after Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines would have bans Russian pilots from using its flight simulation training devices.

The ban was apparently imposed because Turkish Airlines feared it would face secondary sanctions from the EU Aviation Safety Agency.

Turkey’s move is likely to be significant given that not all types of flight simulation training devices are readily available in Russia or friendly partner states, experts say. interrogates earlier this year by independent media outlet The Insider.

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