Russians more optimistic than not about economy despite war-related sanctions: poll

Russians are more optimistic than pessimistic about the outlook for their local economy despite a year’s worth of significant sanctions related to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a new poll.

A Gallup poll released Friday found that 44 percent of Russians surveyed between August and November said their local economic situation is getting better, while 29 percent said it is getting worse.

The United States and many of its Western allies supporting Ukraine have placed sanctions on Russia over its full-scale invasion, which began one year ago on Friday. Numerous major companies also pulled their operations out of Russia in response.

Gallup noted that this caused the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to predict Russian gross domestic product would drop between 2 and 4 percent in 2022. But local economic perceptions among Russians still improved in the poll compared to 2021 by 4 points.

Gallup posited in its analysis that the optimistic outlook has two possible explanations. The first is that sanctions are not impacting the Russian economy as much as the West has hoped, while the second is that Russians are experiencing a “rally ‘round the flag” effect that raises positive polling numbers during a time of national crisis.

Gallup said countries like China and India have increased their purchases of Russian oil and are paying in local currencies, while much of Europe is still reliant on Russian natural gas.

It reported that a majority of people living in every region across Russia are satisfied with their standard of living for the first time on record.

Pollsters also found that two-thirds of respondents approve of their country’s leadership, while only 21 percent disapprove.

Gallup Editor-in-Chief Mohamed Younis told CNN’s Michael Smerconish in an interview on Saturday that Russia has paid an “enormous cost” in terms of lives lost during the war, but economic “pain” does not seem to be settling among the Russian population, at least so far.

Gallup noted that approval for Russian leadership consistently fell in the years following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and intervention in the Syrian Civil War, so the intended effect of economic sanctions might become clearer if a similar trend happens now.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 13 to Nov. 2, 2022, among 2,000 Russians aged 15 and older. The margin of error was 2.6 points.

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