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Opinion
Clara Ferreira Marques and Scott Johnson

How Is Russia’s Fortress Economy Really Faring?

The country hasn’t gone into free fall even after being hit with unprecedented sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. The future looks bleak anyway

Shuttered KFC and McDonald's restaurants in Moscow on April 16.

Shuttered KFC and McDonald's restaurants in Moscow on April 16.

Photographer: Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images Europe

For years, Russia has been preparing for a crisis of the magnitude its economy is now facing. Leading up to February’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Moscow built up its national champions, sought to wean itself off the U.S. dollar and filled a hefty war chest. That, along with oil and gas revenue, has helped to cushion the financial punishment imposed by the West. Clara Ferreira Marques of Bloomberg Opinion and Scott Johnson, who covers Russia for Bloomberg Economics, discuss why this resilience isn’t all it seems.

Clara Ferreira Marques: Russia’s “fortress economy” has held up, for all its cracks. Russia won’t thrive, and a deep and painful recession is inevitable, but it hasn’t crumbled either, even in the face of wide-ranging, even unprecedented, sanctions. Should we be surprised?