Connect with us


YEARENDER-Russia, mired in war, faces economic pain and attempts to isolate it

News Agencies



By Andrew Osborn

LONDON, Dec 6 (Reuters) – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine plunged Europe into its biggest land war since World War Two, igniting a conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions, pulverised Ukrainian cities and damaged the global economy.

Despite warnings from U.S. intelligence in the run-up to Feb. 24, many European and Ukrainian officials did not believe it would happen. It was far too much for the Russian army to bite off, went the thinking.

Putin, who turned 70 in October, was, however, incensed by what he saw as Ukraine’s treacherous Westwards pivot, and ordered an invasion – which he called “a special military operation” – nonetheless.


His goal was to root out what he saw as excessive and potentially dangerous Western influence in an area where Moscow once held sway and to speed up what he saw as an inevitable historical shift to a multi-polar world.

When in September he announced the annexation of four Ukrainian regions his troops partially controlled, a move the West declared illegal, his desire to enlarge Russia, already the world’s biggest country by territory, became explicit.

The war has so far not gone well for Putin. His forces were beaten back from the Ukrainian capital and then from the north-eastern Kharkiv region. In November, they were forced to quit the southern city of Kherson and the River Dnipro’s west bank.


As winter sets in, his army, which still controls a large chunk of Ukraine, has had more success at destroying Ukrainian infrastructure, inflicting prolonged power and water outages, something Moscow says has a military purpose. Ukraine has accused Russia of terrorism.

After overseeing the Kherson withdrawal, the commander of Russia’s forces is under pressure to deliver on the battlefield.

On the home front, where space for dissent has shrunk to nearly zero and hundreds of thousands of young men are missing from the workforce after fleeing abroad to avoid being called up, people are trying to get on with their lives.


But they cannot escape reminders of the war.

State TV schedules are dominated by rolling talk shows whose guests explain why the war is necessary and funerals for the war dead, whose number is a secret in Russia but estimated in the tens of thousands by the West, have become regular occurrences.


Despite military setbacks and political infighting, eight sources told Reuters in October that Putin’s grip on power remained firm and unofficial polls give him a 70-80% approval rating. Some said that could change fast if defeat beckoned.


Russia’s invasion up-ended geopolitics.


NATO, an alliance that French President Emmanuel Macron said in 2019 was in the grips of “brain death”, is poised to add Finland and Sweden even though its further expansion was the very thing Putin opposed.

The United States, which the Democrats fretted had become too isolationist under former president Donald Trump, has provided Ukraine with the lion’s share of the financial and military aid required to keep it in the fight.

Ukraine, which before Feb. 24, had sometimes struggled to get the West interested in a slow-burning war against Russian proxies in its east, has received aid and Western support that once seemed unimaginable.


And Russia, one of the world’s biggest energy and commodity producers, has been hit with the harshest Western sanctions in its modern history.

That and its own retaliatory measures have shrunk its role as one of Europe’s biggest oil and gas suppliers, disrupted global grain and fertiliser markets, fuelled global inflation and increased nuclear tensions to their highest level since the Cuban Missile crisis.



With Ukraine adamant that Russia withdraw from its territory before any peace talks happen, including from annexed Crimea, even a temporary ceasefire looks hard to achieve.

For Russia, 2023 is likely to be a year when it tries to stave off more Western attempts to isolate it.

Political leaders in Iran, North Korea and Belarus remain staunch supporters. China and India have stepped in to buy heavily discounted Russian oil, though Beijing has not been as full-throated in its public support of Moscow as expected.


Cracks have meanwhile begun to open up in the former Soviet Union, where Moscow’s influence is under pressure as some countries try to change the status quo while Russia is busy in Ukraine.

At least two Central Asian countries have voiced public disagreement with Moscow, and Russia’s role as a mediator in a conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia is being squeezed by the EU and Washington.

Moscow will have to manage its sanctions-hit economy too, a task made harder after the exodus of young men. Economic stability is linked to political stability, which the authorities have tried to ensure by intensifying a crackdown on anyone perceived a threat.


Reuters reported in November that Russia plans to spend nearly a third of its 2023 budget on defence and domestic security while slashing funding for schools, hospitals and roads.

As Putin pays up to keep the war in Ukraine grinding on, managing its fallout at home and abroad is likely to get harder.

Explore the Reuters round-up of news stories that dominated the year, and the outlook for 2023.


(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Angus MacSwan)

Continue Reading


Breaking News

Editor Pick’s

Latest Entertainment

Entertainment5 hours ago

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor arrested in Nevada sex abuse case

NORTH LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas police on Tuesday arrested and raided the home of a former “Dances With...

Entertainment9 hours ago

Alec Baldwin, armorer officially charged with involuntary manslaughter over ‘Rust’ shooting

Alec Baldwin, pictured in New York on Tuesday as prosecutors are expected to file formal charges for his role in...

Entertainment9 hours ago

Alec Baldwin formally charged in ‘Rust’ shooting as prosecutors say he was ‘distracted’ during gun training, ‘reckless’ on set

Alec Baldwin, pictured in New York on Tuesday as prosecutors are expected to file formal charges for his role in...

Entertainment9 hours ago

Andrea Riseborough’s controversial upset Oscar nomination, explained (updated)

Andrea Riseborough scored an upset Oscar nomination for her star turn in To Leslie. (Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection) Updated Jan....

Entertainment9 hours ago

Andrea Riseborough’s controverial upset Oscar nomination, explained (updated)

Andrea Riseborough scored an upset Oscar nomination for her star turn in To Leslie. (Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection) Updated Jan....

Entertainment10 hours ago

Dr. Phil McGraw Announces His Daytime Talk Show Will End After 21 Seasons: ‘This Has Been an Incredible Chapter’

All good things must come to an end. Dr. Phil McGraw announced that his daytime talk show will come to...

Entertainment10 hours ago

Is Ezra Miller still the Flash? What’s the deal with Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman? Everything you need to know about James Gunn’s epic DC reboot.

Director James Gunn poses at the L.A. premiere of The Suicide Squad in 2021 (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni) This is how...

Entertainment11 hours ago

The most WTF Grammys ever: When Soy Bomb and ODB stole the show, and Aretha saved it, 25 years ago

Michael “Soy Bomb” Portnoy, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and Aretha Franklin all made history at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards on...


Latest Sports

Sports31 mins ago

Denver hired Sean Payton to build a culture, not adapt to one. That means changes for Russell Wilson and the Broncos.

When it comes time to being critical, Payton isn't always going to shy away from being honest in his assessments...

Sports51 mins ago

NBA mock draft 5.0: First-round risers

While the top of the draft is crystal clear with Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson, the rest of the lottery...

Sports1 hour ago

How Giants’ 2023 MLB Opening Day roster might look after odd offseason

After signing seven veterans in the offseason, the Giants don't have many spots up for grabs this spring. Here's a...

Sports2 hours ago

LeBron truly does it all, at a historic level

LeBron James recorded a triple-double in the Lakers' OT win over the Knicks, moving into the top 5 on the...

Sports2 hours ago

Titans ditch natural grass for artificial turf at Nissan Stadium, cite injuries, player safety

The Titans are team turf in the NFL's ongoing turf vs. grass debate.

Sports3 hours ago

2023 NFL Draft order: Picks 1-29 are set after conference championship games

Almost the entire draft order is set after the NFC and AFC championship games.

Sports3 hours ago

Twitter questions Sean Payton-Broncos marriage before it even begins

Social media blew up after reports surfaced that the Denver Broncos finalized a trade with the New Orleans Saints for...

Sports3 hours ago

49ers’ Arik Armstead defends Javon Kinlaw for viral play vs. Eagles

A play involving defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw picked up steam online after the 49ers' NFC Championship loss -- and Arik...

Technology Hot News

Technology2 weeks ago

Led by "Amazon" and "Microsoft" .. the technology giants are planning to lay off 64,000 employees

After 10 years of driving the stock market bull run, big tech companies are racing to downsize staff to adapt...

Technology2 weeks ago

Apple introduces MacBooks with new M2 processors

Yesterday, Tuesday, Apple unveiled MacBooks powered by the new, faster “M2 Pro” and “M2 Max” processor chips, in a surprise...

Technology2 weeks ago

All you need to know about the upcoming Galaxy S23 phones from Samsung

Samsung has officially announced that the (Galaxy Unpacked 2023) event will be held this year on Wednesday, February 1, which...

Technology2 weeks ago

FTX Exchange Announces Hacking and Stolen $415 Million in Cryptocurrency

Bankrupt American cryptocurrency firm FTX announced today, Wednesday, that $415 million in cryptocurrency has been hacked and stolen from the...

Technology2 weeks ago

Because of a "fraudulent tweet"… Elon Musk's trial begins

Elon Musk's trial began Tuesday in San Francisco with the selection of jury members who will have to decide whether...

Technology2 weeks ago

An electric spoon replaces salt and spices, but with conditions

Experts have developed an electric spoon that is able to replace spices and flavors and affect the taste buds in...

Technology2 weeks ago

The biggest dangers of using tracking devices.. so you can escape?

If you spot an unknown Bluetooth tagging device, there are ways to disable the device so it can't track your...

Technology2 weeks ago

New Twitter.. For You tab to web version

The Twitter platform announced that it will bring the new tab (For You), which launched last Tuesday for iPhones and...