A new iron curtain descends on Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine

But the isolation is also a function of the repressive measures Putin has taken at home. These moves have impeded the free flow information on the internet, contained protests, and sent thousands fleeing Russia to escape the threat of conscription, martial law or closing borders. This is a country that has been moving towards more extreme forms of authoritarianism.

“As Putin tries to reduce Ukraine to rubble, he is also turning Russia into a prison,” Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said during testimony to Congress on Tuesday. The result has been the rise of a paranoid state Russia. It is a country many Russian citizens aren’t familiar with. TikTok doesn’t allow video uploads and radio stations and televisions of the Russian intelligencesia have stopped broadcasting. Russia is unable to compete in the FIFA World Cup.

On March 6, antiwar protesters were beaten with batons as they were arrested by Russian police in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Reuters)

Some supermarkets are even limiting the amount of flour and sugar customers can purchase, and shoppers are hoarding items from Ikea, H&M and Zara before they become relics of a bygone era. Hollywood studios are stopping the release of films, while Europe is no longer a nearby stomping ground but an ever-more-inaccessible universe, brimming with anger at Russians.

“For the average person who is less economically integrated with the rest of the world, they are going to feel it first when it comes to prices. Kristy Ironside of McGill University, who studies Russia history, said that they will see items disappear off the shelves. This will be particularly devastating for the young professional classes. Their lives are really going to change quickly.”

As the ruble plummets and companies retreat, Russians won’t be able to get items they have become used to, and even if those items are available, many won’t be able to afford them, Ironside said.

On Tuesday, even McDonald’s — a symbol of the Soviet Union’s opening to the West when it set up shop in Moscow in 1990 — announced that it would temporarily shut down its 850 restaurants in Russia, while still paying the chain’s 62,000 employees.

Steps such as the closing of McDonald’s and the blocking of Russian athletes from sporting competitions will make it clear to regular Russians that the invasion comes with a steep cost, even if Russia’s state-controlled media hides the truth, said Konstantin Sonin, a Russian economist at the University of Chicago.

” For decades, even countries such as North Korea or Iran were involved in the Olympics and World Cups. Teams from the Soviet Union also participated in European soccer cup competitions even during the worst of tensions, he stated. This is it. This is how Russian people know that something is going terribly wrong.”

Putin has long presented his rule as a stable antidote to the economic turmoil and crime that afflicted Russia in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His popularity with Russians was largely due to the significant rise in living standards that he saw during his two first terms.

Russia entered the World Trade Organization and brought businesspeople every year to a Davos-like forum in St. Petersburg to tout the country as an enticing emerging market. Russians have more options for goods and services thanks to foreign car manufacturers, retail outlets, and restaurants as well as giants in the consumer goods industry.

But now a great severing is reordering that world. The list of companies that have cut ties to Russia continues to grow, with KPMG (Accounting Firm) and PwC (Public Accounting Firm) announcing their departures and Mastercard and Visa stating they would no longer accept Russian bank cards. According to a list compiled by the Yale School of Management, some 300 companies had suspended operations or left the market since Putin announced the invasion.

BP and Shell have announced that they are abandoning multibillion dollar investments in energy. International banks and insurance firms are stopping transactions with Russian counterparts. To comply with the sanctions, computer chip producers and shipping companies as well as a variety of exporters have stopped shipments to Russia. Western countries are now closing ports that allow Russian ships to enter their territories. European retailers have closed down their Russian shops and Microsoft and Apple have suspended sales. Starbucks announced Tuesday that it will suspend all Russian business operations. Coca-Cola suspended business in Russia.

Russia’s cultural collaboration with the West is also being cut off. Many cultural elites of Moscow and St. Petersburg have fled to other countries. Moscow’s Garage Museum has stopped working on its exhibits because of the conflict in Ukraine. As the director of Moscow’s new GES-2 art center, the V-A-C Foundation artistic director, and the Pushkin Museum deputy director, both resigned.

Putin’s biggest critics in Russia — who tend to be from the urban upper class — may, ironically, experience the isolation more keenly than other Russians, as the country increasingly finds itself cut off from the West, said Richard Connolly, a professor who studies the Russian economy at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Connolly stated that the constituency most in line with our worldview is [that]. The one who will suffer the most is

. “The average person who works in a Chelyabinsk tractor factory is still going to be working and have access to the things they had before.”

He noted Russia isn’t being cut off from the world but rather relegated to a trading bloc led by Beijing. Connolly stated that China had not yet announced sanctions against Russia. However, it could “extract” a cost for Russia’s support with goods or investment. Turkey has also not signed up to the sanctions.

The mass retreat from the Russian market by international companies has come alongside increased repression from the state.

Authorities have arrested thousands of Russians who have attempted to protest the war. On Friday, Putin signed a law threatening up to 15 years in prison for anyone who publishes “fake” news about what the Kremlin calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine, dealing a devastating blow to the last vestiges of Russian independent media and prompting many journalists to leave the country.

Russia’s communications regulator has been bearing down on tech giants, announcing last week that it would block access to Facebook altogether. Twitter reported that Russian users were having difficulty accessing their services. However, the company said its platform was not completely blocked and YouTube is still available. TikTok is a popular Russian social media platform. It suspended live streaming and uploads because of concerns over the Kremlin’s new law regarding fake news.

“In the Soviet Union, this isolation was developed through years if not decades. Andrei Soldatov (a Russian journalist who covers the security and Internet services of Russia) said that it took time. “Now what makes this unique is that Putin wants to build information control in a matter of days.”

Just as contraband is likely to flourish as the Russian market reels, sophisticated Internet users are likely to find ways to continue accessing blocked content. Many are already turning to VPNs or virtual private networks. However, it is not clear how long this approach will last.

The three most-downloaded nongame applications in Russia from Apple and Google from Feb. 24 to Mar. Sensor Tower said that 6 was comprised of two VPN apps and Telegram the messaging app.

Between those dates, Telegram was installed more than 1 million times in Russia, while the secure messaging application Signal saw 223,000 installations, according to Sensor Tower. A large contingent of Russians fled the country. Between 20,000 and 25,000 Russians have entered Georgia in recent days, the country’s economic minister, Levan Davitashvili, said Monday. A Western representative at a European company closing its Moscow office stated that several Russians have taken little from their passports and coats to get on any international flights.

Some people have arrived in Dubai and Istanbul with only a handful of hundred dollars, and no idea what they are going to do next.

” They are shocked at the events in Ukraine. The executive stated that some are fleeing because they don’t want anything to do it. He said that rumors of Moscow declaring martial law, closing the borders and threatening to shut down the country have “absolutely terrorized people” but Moscow has not prevented Russians leaving.

One young woman, a professional from Moscow, was in Dubai at the time of the invasion. She and her family decided to travel to Italy instead of return home, as they had planned. They plan to remain there indefinitely. The woman spoke on condition of anonymity, saying that they already have residence papers and an apartment to rent in Italy. She hopes to one day return to Russia.

She said she knows about 50 other Russians who have fled in recent days. She said that many of these people lack the financial means to travel abroad.

She was worried about her Russian parents and suggested that they buy one year of medication just in case.

“I am lucky. She said that she had foreign [bank] account. “My thought was I would be prepared for the future, and then the future comes in a rush, in one click.”

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