Inflammation and stories on russia

Indigenous Peoples of RussiaThe world’s largest country by territory, Russia is remarkably diverse, multicultural and multilingual. The Russian government recognizes almost 200 ethnic minorities and close to 300 different languages. Groups with populations of 50,000 or less are classified as “small-in-number,” with 46 groups of Indigenous peoples identified as such as of 2020. These peoples inhabit territories of the Russian Federation in the Far North, beyond the Arctic Circle, along the Ural Mountains and across Siberia and the Far East. Now heavily outnumbered by the majority Russian population, they face population decline, adverse living and working conditions and cultural attrition. Thankfully, there are active initiatives working to stop poverty and culture loss among the Indigenous peoples of Russia and ensure equal protection of their rights.

Indigenous Peoples Face Headwinds

In general, living standards for the country’s small nationalities are lower than for ethnic Russians. As they often preserve traditional ways of life and occupy remote, isolated areas, some basic services, such as education, are lacking or of a lesser quality. Furthermore, Indigenous populations suffer from higher unemployment rates and lower incomes, with the former being almost two times higher than among the general population and the latter being two to three times lower. Unfortunately, the country’s Indigenous peoples also lack access to safe drinking water, food, medical care and other vital necessities, leading to higher disease and infection rates and shorter lifespans. For instance, Indigenous men and women in Russia have respective life expectancies of 50 years and 60 years, which are significantly lower than the life expectancies (64 years for men and 70 years for women) of the general Russian population.

While Russian legislation formally guarantees Indigenous populations’ rights to language protection, education and water and land use, Indigenous rights are rarely protected or enforced. Indigenous land is regularly exploited for industrial and other purposes, depriving Indigenous peoples of the land and natural resources that they rely upon for physical, financial and cultural sustenance.

Factors Contributing To Indigenous Poverty and Culture Loss in Russia

Racism has been a driving force behind poverty and culture loss among the Indigenous peoples of Russia. The country’s non-Russian populations often face harsh racial profiling, mistreatment by law enforcement, employment discrimination and hate crimes. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation, with the proportion of Indigenous soldiers mobilized in the war reportedly far outweighing that of ethnic Russians.

In light of growing economic and societal challenges, Indigenous people are increasingly abandoning their languages and cultural heritage in hopes of assimilating with the majority population and increasing their chances of survival. Consequently, many of the country’s Indigenous peoples and languages are going extinct, along with their unique histories, knowledge and lifestyles. As of 2014, 148 Indigenous languages and at least 16 of the 41 legally recognized Indigenous groups in Russia were “considered to be endangered.”

Local Government and Native Councils May Hold the Key to a Better Future

There has, however, been progress toward rectifying the situation in recent decades. In 1996, the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug established a regional council of Indigenous peoples, and the local legislature designated three of its 21 seats for Indigenous representatives. Additionally, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), an umbrella organization founded in 1990, is working “to protect human rights and defend the interests of the indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East of the Russian Federation.” Representing 40 Indigenous peoples, RAIPON is a member of the Arctic Council and collaborates with several U.N. partners to organize, advocate and raise funding for projects supporting Indigenous interests in Russia. Furthermore, the Arctic Council utilizes a “language revitalization” initiative aimed at studying, recording, digitizing and sustaining Indigenous languages that are at risk of extinction.

Looking Ahead

Despite the threats of poverty and cultural loss, Indigenous civil society groups and international efforts are making a difference in the struggle to maintain Indigenous populations in Russia. Nonetheless, future success in combating poverty and culture loss among the Indigenous peoples of Russia looks to hinge upon increased funding and support for Indigenous education, language, land and rights protections and cultural preservation work. Such levels of support could help ensure that the Indigenous peoples of Russia, and their values and heritage, continue to thrive.

– Paul Phelan
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in Russia
In Russia, achieving financial stability has been a challenge for people with disabilities for a long time. Approximately 13 million individuals out of an estimated population of 146 million are classified as having some degree of disability. However, in the absence of strong government action, local, volunteer and advocacy groups are taking the lead in fighting disability and poverty in Russia.

Government Benefits and Challenges

The Russian government classifies those with disabilities into three groups: Group 1 to Group 3, with Group 1 being the most severe cases. People in this group are typically unable to function without aid. On the other end of the scale is Group 3, which is for people who need only some assistance to function. The basic government benefit ranges from up to 14,948.71 rubles for people with three dependents down to just 4,982.90 rubles for those with no dependents.

Despite the improvements and official recognition of social and economic issues that children and people with disabilities face, state policies often worsen existing problems and set up disabled people for failure. A 2014 report discovered that parents abandoned nearly 30% of children with disabilities in orphanages after state officials convinced their parents that they would be unable to raise them. These children frequently suffer from neglect and mistreatment at poorly funded and under-equipped institutions.

Young people with disabilities in Russia often face numerous challenges, including limited access to education and social isolation. Without proper education and social interactions, they may struggle to engage with others and are ill-prepared to support themselves economically. Moreover, after turning 18, many are coerced into giving up their legal independence and are placed in adult institutions for the disabled. These institutions often fail to provide adequate education and support, leaving young people trapped in a system that does not prioritize their needs or interests. These challenges highlight the need for greater government action and support for people with disabilities in Russia.

Advocacy Groups

Perspektiva and other advocacy groups are working to alleviate the issues surrounding disability and poverty in Russia. The groups aim to prepare young people with disabilities for future success through a variety of methods, including fun and creative exercises like sports, art and theater classes. These activities develop children both cognitively and physically while providing a platform for socialization with the wider public. Additionally, some programs focus on educational initiatives like funding for disabled children in public schools.

These organizations also support adults by offering technical job training and help with coordinating employment or housing for those who wish to live independently. Many adults who seek legal guidance, access to their legal financial benefits or protection turn to these organizations for support.

Looking Ahead

The lack of acceptance and support from the general public is a significant obstacle that disabled people in Russia face today. It presents challenges for parents raising children perceived as “different” and hinders disabled adults from realizing their full potential as economic and social equals. Despite the ongoing struggle with disability and poverty in Russia, activists and disability rights organizations are making progress through advocacy and support programs.

– Paul Phelan
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Russia’s Foreign Aid
The Russian Federation or simply Russia has had what one can only describe as a tumultuous time over the period since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The economic revolution after the fall of the USSR could be the driving force behind the economic adversity the nation suffered during the period. With Russia enacting extreme economic reform with the aim to transform itself into a modern capitalist nation, Russia actually received vast humanitarian aid itself due to the hardship many lived through during the first years after the Soviet Union.

While there is still much work necessary in the country, Russia has transformed itself from a net receiver of foreign aid into a significant net donor. Russia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) steadily increased from $100 million in 2004 to more than $1 billion in 2017, making it one of the largest foreign aid donors in the world. Here is some information about Russia’s foreign aid.

Russia’s Foreign Aid

According to the World Bank, Russia has been formulating its development cooperation agenda for nearly a decade. The nation has increased its foreign aid efforts, chiefly, with a significant boost to ODA. As stated previously, Russia’s ODA gradually increased between 2004 and 2017. While also increasing foreign aid, Russia equally provides significant military aid to certain nations.

Alongside the ODA, Russia has increased its role in improving assistance to the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank stated that “Russia expressed strong support for the IDA as an important multilateral mechanism for providing assistance to the poorest countries.”

Putin and his government list “poverty reduction, disaster relief and the development of trade and economic partnerships as the key reasons” why Russia gives foreign aid, according to AidData.

However, studies also suggest that Moscow might actually be a “pioneer in de-stabilizing aid.” This is a form of aid designed to promote unrest and provoke antagonism towards other states and international institutions. Governments can do this through financial military aid.

Benefits to Russia

Many assume that providing foreign aid only benefits the recipient nation. However, there are many reasons why foreign aid could also benefit Russia itself. By providing foreign aid, there is a chance to boost economic activity in recipient countries. Russia may be able to improve conditions for trade and foreign investment in receiving countries. Thus, increasing the industrial capabilities and capacities may help provide more markets for Russia and increase potential trading partners, according to the World Bank.

Increasing and strengthening national institutions that combat organized crime and terrorism in receiving nations may also prove beneficial to Russia by improving Russian national security. AidData suggests that Russia also benefits from “checkbook diplomacy via foreign aid.” Nicaragua benefited heavily from Russia’s ODA, receiving $150 million alongside substantial military aid.

Nicaragua happens to be one of the only nations that recognize the Russian-backed separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent nations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nicaragua was one of only 11 states to back Russia in a U.N. General Assembly resolution during the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014. This suggests that Russia also benefits politically from foreign aid, gaining favor from nations that receive financial and military aid from the nation.

Benefits of Foreign Aid

While it is possible to see how Russia may benefit from giving foreign aid, it is clear that foreign aid helps many nations around the world tackle serious issues such as poverty. Humanitarian Careers has stated that the first significant reason foreign aid is so important is that “it saves lives.”

Countries that provide foreign aid contribute a number of their funds to humanitarian assistance. Nations that crises, disasters or conflicts around the world affect are often unable to afford basic necessities due to the situations they are in. Foreign aid allows for the provision of food and water alongside other vital supplies that are necessary during a crisis. Foreign aid also allows for a more steadfast recovery and helps rebuild areas where catastrophes devastated, according to Humanitarian Careers.

A second key benefit of international foreign aid is that it helps impoverished countries develop. Increased funding to key government departments such as infrastructure, health care and education can help reduce poverty. Assisting poorer nations benefits their citizens’ livelihoods and increases their incomes.

A substantial part of foreign aid is in the form of military aid. Military aid can come in many different forms. It mostly comes in the form of donations of military equipment or loans which a nation can spend on its armed forces. This can be vital as many donor nations have significant security threats such as terrorism, organized crime groups or separatist movements. While often divisive depending on which side of the debate a person is on, military aid can provide huge security to a nation.

Increasing Efforts

The Russian government has made huge strides to increase its foreign aid in recent years, having moved from a net receiver of foreign aid into a global donor of foreign aid. Foreign aid not only provides many benefits to Russia but also will help nations in need better provide for their citizens.

Ultimately, foreign aid can provide significant resources to those in severe poverty across the globe. The more foreign aid provided from those nations who can afford to can only continue to benefit those who struggle to make ends meet and those who have suffered through tragic natural disasters and regional conflicts that devastate local populations.

Josef Whitehead
Photo: Flickr

 Child Poverty in Eastern Europe
The uncertainty of the Russo-Ukrainian war looms over Europe, affecting trade routes, education and the overall state of the continent. For adults, the conflict is a mere reminder of the post-Soviet Union tensions and Russian aggression that frequent the region. For children, it is a catalyst that causes them to slip deeper into poverty. Child poverty in Eastern Europe is skyrocketing during the Ukrainian war. Fortunately, as rates of child poverty in eastern Europe grow, the efforts to subdue those rising rates are increasing as well.

Causes of Child Poverty

In October 2022, UNICEF reported that an additional 4 million children across Central Asia and Eastern Europe have ended up in poverty, a 19% jump since 2021. Russia accounts for 75% of the entire increase. Ukraine reports 500,000 newly impoverished children. With the third-highest increase, Romania reports about 110,000 new children in poverty.

A 2017 study that the European Parliament conducted found that “poverty often remains a legacy that is inherited.” That is, children born into poverty are more likely to stay in it. A parent’s working status and education help determine child poverty outcomes. At least 50% of children whose parents attained low levels of education were at risk of poverty in 2021. This risk doubles if a child lives in a single-parent household or a large family.

Effects of War on Child Poverty

Though the Russo-Ukrainian war has launched millions into poverty, it is the children who it has most affected. Child poverty in Eastern Europe stood at 40%. Constant warfare has increased the cost of goods all over Europe, and in some parts, the prices have inflated significantly. Eastern Europe’s inflation rose to a 17% average, with Hungary’s rates teetering at 25%, increasing the overall price of goods.

Ukraine is one of the EU’s largest trading partners, with nearly 40% contributing to the totality of EU’s trade in 2021. Many also regard it as Europe’s breadbasket. Russia is another trade capital that is the world’s second-largest oil producer. Almost 12% of the world’s oil exports come from Russia. The inflation that the war caused is one of the reasons for heightened rates of child poverty in Eastern Europe. Because most poor families spend their income on essential items, their children are at risk of not having certain necessities as consumer prices continue to increase. The war displaced many children. Learning institutions have been in the crossfire of the conflict, resulting in their closing and the interruption of childhood education

The Solutions to End Child Poverty in Eastern Europe

In March 2022, Pierre-Alain Fridez released a report on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly. The report outlines solutions to ending child poverty and examines alternative approaches to the issue. These include increasing the amount of funding appropriated for the common goal of alleviating child poverty and reinforcing EU member states’ commitment to the updated version of the European Social Charter. It also means getting those who have yet to ratify the Charter to do so.

Parliamentary encourages the implementation of the European Child Guarantee, an initiative focused on granting children equal access to childcare, education and housing. The Guarantee began in an attempt to curate a more equal society and close the gaps between the drawing up of a plan and its execution. To meet this goal, the European Social Network enlisted the help of the EU which seeks to place an emphasis on the Guarantee’s five major components. Through the Guarantee, children will receive formal recognition as a deprived group whose needs will help tailor specific policies, recommendations and fund allocation. UNICEF aims to end child poverty. So far, it has introduced and incorporated the Social Protection Strategy, a scheme that provides children with social assistance benefits that help increase the standard of living while also lowering child poverty rates. In recent years, it has partnered with other governments and humanitarian organizations including the World Bank. It treats child poverty on a case-by-case basis. This means monitoring trends and analyzing data about child poverty to create an approach that best serves a particular country.

– Dorothy Quanteh
Photo: Flickr

Charities Operating in Russia
Through the work of five charities operating in Russia, vulnerable people are able to receive health care support and treatment as well as assistance in instances of abuse and exploitation. Here is information about these five charities operating in Russia.

5 Charities Operating in Russia

  1. INGI. Crisis Centre for Women. This nonprofit organization was established in 1992 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Its main goal is to support women who are victims of several types of violence, discrimination and human trafficking in Russia. According to France24, “Russia in 2017 decriminalized certain forms of domestic violence, classifying them as an administrative offense and not a crime.” The organization provides psychological help for women who have suffered from abuse; interacts with state and local authorities; draws attention to women’s rights through media; creates and carries out women’s rights lectures and seminars; organizes charity auctions and events to raise money and offers legal support in court, among other efforts. From January to August 2022, the INGI. Crisis Centre received 5,346 requests from women in need and 3,660 people requested online consultation services. In addition, 126,148 women used the “P.O.L.I.N.A” platform (a tool that helps women access essential services and assistance) and the organization provided 345 instances of legal advisory services.
  2. Podari Zhizn. This charity foundation helps to ensure child cancer patients in Russia are able to access high-quality cancer treatment regardless of economic status. Podari Zhizn pays the costs of treatment for children with “oncological, hematological and other challenging conditions and illnesses,” its website says. Also, the foundation supplies medical facilities with equipment, medication and blood donations. When it comes to families with ill kids, the organization pays for transportation and accommodation expenses and offers legal and psychological support. In 2021 alone, the foundation provided assistance to almost 7,750 young patients. Podari Zhizn has two partner organizations, in the U.S. and the U.K.
  3. EVA. Established in Saint Petersburg in 2010 by activists, the EVA Association became the first organization in Russia to focus its efforts toward “[protecting] women who are affected by the HIV epidemic and other socially significant diseases.” The EVA Association brings together “63 activists and specialists and [five] non-commercial organizations from 39 cities across Russia.” In Russia, there are more than 500,000 HIV-positive women. And, many members of EVA are also navigating through life with HIV. All donor funds are spent on programs: “the breastfeeding support program for HIV-positive mothers, HIV prevention among drug users [and] the center for the development of activism,” the EVA website says. Over the years EVA has implemented more than 50 projects in the areas of peer counseling, HIV testing and prevention, parenting and “development of nonprofits and activism.”
  4. Lighthouse Charity Foundation. This Foundation was founded by Nyuta Federmesser and Lida Moniava in 2018 to support “children’s hospices in Moscow and the Moscow Region.” It also offers help and assistance to those families who decide to “transfer critically ill children to their homes” for care. On an annual basis, Lighthouse Charity Foundation projects support around 1,000 families whose kids suffer from critical illnesses. The Foundation consists of more than 300 professionals and 300 volunteers. In 2021, its budget stood at 950 million rubles — only 20% came from government funding and 80% came from donations “from ordinary citizens.” In 2022, the Foundation raised about 896 million rubles but still requires 960 million rubles considering it has 811 children receiving its care services.
  5. Hospice Charity Fund VERA. This nonprofit operating in Russia since 2006 supports the provision of “palliative and hospice care for children, adults and elderly.” Unfortunately, the “Russian state medical and social system does not cover care” for patients with terminal illnesses, VERA explains. Hospices receive support through charitable contributions only. Back in 2006, VERA had just four employees and one institution it supported. Over 16 years, VERA has contributed to developments in professional palliative care in Russia and now has more than 60 employees providing support to more than 30 hospices around the country.

These five charities operating in Russia, though not the only ones in existence, play a significant role in helping the most marginalized and vulnerable groups of people requiring aid and assistance.

– Elizaveta Medvedkina
Photo: Unsplash

TikTokers Raise Awareness
The war in Ukraine continues months after the Russian invasion in February 2022. With no reconciliation in close sight, especially after recent Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities in early October 2022, humanitarian aid is urgent. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) estimated a civilian death toll of 6,430 by October 30, 2022. TikTokers within Ukraine are using the TikTok app to report on the events unfolding in Ukraine and document their experiences. Through this social media platform, TikTokers raise awareness about the Ukraine crisis and publicize calls for aid to Ukraine.

This type of news dissemination via short videos is gaining popularity among the younger generations not only because of the quick dissemination of news but because of the first-person accounts of the war and even the use of humor by Ukrainians on the ground.

First-person Accounts of War

Johnny Jen, a travel vlogger living in Ukraine during the Russian invasion, had some insight into using social media to show the effects of war. Jen told Insider that platforms like TikTok and YouTube have already begun to “replace traditional media and the news,” especially among the younger generation. A 2019 Reuters Institute study confirms this with a finding that individuals younger than 35 feel “traditional news media no longer seems as relevant or as dominant when it comes to news content” in comparison to social media.

University professor Damian Radcliffe also commented on this trend, telling Insider that the “informal feel” of these short videos tends to resonate as more “authentic and raw” to a younger audience.

Humor as a Coping Mechanism

The humor sprinkled into this type of content draws the attention of people using TikTok. Ukrainian Lisa Lysova has garnered a million views on a TikTok dance video she created after waking up to “sounds of explosions” when Russia invaded the nation. She says the use of humor is how she copes with the stress of the crisis.

Alina Volik, who is also a TikToker in Ukraine, says this humor helps Ukrainians “bond,” especially amid the war. She has 76,000 followers who watch her videos, which range from jokes that the Ukrainian president is the country’s “psychotherapist” and visiting empty stores in Ukraine as “entertainment.” This is a way for Ukrainians to relate to one another.

The Future of Social Media News Dissemination

With distrust in local media lurking over the past few years, these short videos are gaining attention. Survey results from Reach3 Insights show “three-quarters of Generation Z said TikTok has helped them to learn about social justice and politics, while the same number said the social video app helps them stay current on the news,” Marketing Dive reported.

While TikTokers raise awareness about the Ukraine crisis, countries are providing donations to support Ukrainians. On October 6, 2022, USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced that the U.S. will provide $55 million worth of financial aid to support heating infrastructure in Ukraine as winter approaches. The USAID website says that “This assistance will support repairs and maintenance of pipes and other equipment necessary to deliver heating to homes, hospitals, schools and businesses across Ukraine.” From February 2022 to October 2022, the U.S. supplied $1.5 billion worth of humanitarian aid to people in Ukraine and surrounding countries.

Through TikTok, Ukrainian influencers are bringing attention to the issues impacting Ukraine, which could garner more foreign aid and help from humanitarian organizations.

– Marynette Holmes
Photo: Flickr

Russia-Ukraine Wheat Agreement Russia and Ukraine are two of the largest grain producers in the world, combining to supply 30% of the world’s wheat and barley. A continuous flow of these goods is critical as the two countries account for over half of all wheat imports in 36 countries, according to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). The Russia-Ukraine war put a stop to the export of these goods with Russia blocking Ukrainian ports since February. Fortunately, with the help of the United Nations and third-party countries, Russia and Ukraine were able to strike a deal allowing wheat and grain exports to leave the Ukrainian port in Odesa. The Russia-Ukraine wheat agreement went into effect on Monday, August 1, 2022.

Food Supply Threat

Port blockages posed a clear threat to food supply lines around the world, specifically in the Horn of Africa. Because wheat was unavailable from Russia and Ukraine, countries had to pay more for shipping from further away countries. Additionally, any vessels traveling through the black sea were in imminent danger, resulting in higher insurance premiums and an overall increase in food costs.

The situation was untenable, with it being an estimated 47 million people face acute hunger, USIP reports.

Fortunately, with the help of the United Nations and third-party countries, Russia and Ukraine were able to strike a deal allowing wheat and grain exports to leave the Ukrainian port in Odesa. The Russo-Ukrainian wheat agreement went into effect on Monday, August 1, 2022.

The Agreement

Two countries concluded the agreement last month, after two months of negotiation. United Nations and Turkey brokered the talks, with both Russia and Ukraine taking a seat at the table. The Russia-Ukraine wheat agreement should last 120 days, however, there’s an option to renew it indefinitely if both countries agree, according to BBC.

The reason for the nearly month-long delay between agreement and enaction of this deal comes from the difficult logistics that had to be ironed out. Ukrainian military mined the waters in Odesa to prevent Russian ships from entering. As a result, this makes travel by cargo ship incredibly difficult.

The Ukrainian military worked to finalize a route through the black sea suitable for cargo ships and devoid of mines. Second, all cargo ships entering and exiting Ukraine will go through inspection for weapons, upon Russia’s request. This inspection will happen at the Joint Coordination Center in Turkey, according to BBC.

Now that the agreement has gone into effect, Ukrainian officials announced that there are 17 ships carrying 600,000 tonnes of cargo waiting for inspection, BBC reports.


Under the Russian-Ukraine wheat agreement, Russia has agreed not to take any military action on Odesa or the ships coming in and out of the port. Ukraine has agreed to use its naval vessels to guide all ships in and out of the mined waters, according to BBC.

As mentioned before, Russia had concerns over weapons being smuggled into Ukraine. To alleviate these concerns Ukraine agreed to mandatory inspections of all ships, which Turkey, as a third party, will conduct.


The Russo-Ukrainian Wheat Agreement is a major first step in building relationships and restoring food supply lines. However, there are still some concerns. First, there are concerns that Russia may not have agreed to this deal in good faith. Less than 24 hours after the deal was agreed to, Russia launched two missile strikes on Odesa port.

There are worries that Russia may continue to disrupt shipments through military action. Second, even with guidance from the Ukrainian navy, sea mines still pose a significant threat to cargo ships in the water. As a result, insurance premiums for vessels hoping to transport grain under this agreement will remain incredibly high and continue to put upwards pressure on the cost of food.

– Benjamin Brown
Photo: Flickr

Sanctions on Russia
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many countries and entities have placed sanctions on Russia in support of Ukraine. Beginning on February 22, 2022, the United States began placing sanctions on Russia in order to increase pressure on the country to end the war in Ukraine.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, U.S. businesses opened up firms in Russia. The economy improved, especially in recent years. In 2018, Russia’s poverty rate according to the national poverty line stood at 12.6%, and it reduced slightly to 12.1% in 2020. The World Bank projects “that the poverty rate under the US$5.5 poverty line will decrease to 3.5[%] in 2021.”

But, with the sanctions in place, Vladimir Putin’s former chief of economics, Andrei Illarionov, predicts that the poverty level in Russia will increase. In April 2022, Illarionov  said to the BBC, “We’ll probably see doubling on the number of those people, maybe even tripling.”

Companies Halting Business in Russia

In March 2022, U.S. companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s made decisions to temporarily stop business in Russia in response to increasing pressure on global companies to take a firm stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Business activities in Russia equated to about 2% of Coca-Cola’s “operating income and revenue.” Similarly, Coca-Cola’s rival, Pepsi, which has a bigger presence in Russia, announced it will “stop production and sale of Pepsi,” but it will continue to produce and sell essential products like milk and baby food.

Along with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Starbucks announced a decision to halt business activities in Russia and stop shipments of Starbucks products to Russia, but it will continue to pay its employees.

The Impact on the Russian Economy

In 2018, Putin put in place a goal to reduce the national poverty rate by 50% over the following six years. However, due to the detrimental consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, in July 2020, Putin adjusted this target date to 2030.

However, recent events in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia are expected to erase about 15 years of economic growth in Russia. The Institute for International Finance predicts that the Russian economy will plummet by about 15% in 2022.

Because of the sanctions on Russia, inflation in Russia could increase by 20% or more by the end of 2022. Meanwhile, inflation will increase between 5% and 8% in the West.

Impact on the Russian People

According to the World Bank, more than 17,000 Russian people live in poverty as of 2020. Due to the sanctions on Russia, the rate will only increase as more people lose their jobs. Illarionov explained to the BBC that it would be nearly impossible for Russia to look toward a positive future if the current situation continues.

Professor of economics and dean at the School of Business Administration at Cedarville University, Dr. Jeffrey Haymond, told The Borgen Project that “The sanctions in Russia will proportionally hurt Russia more than other countries, especially since Russia is a very unbalanced economy, producing very little outside of its expansive natural resources.”

Humanitarian Efforts

Chief Executive and Officer of Pepsi Ramon Laguarta told the BBC, “As a food and beverage company, now more than ever, we must stay true to the humanitarian aspect of our business. That means we have a responsibility to continue to offer our other products in Russia, including daily essentials such as milk and other dairy offerings, baby formula and baby food.”

Meanwhile, McDonald’s rival, Burger King, announced in March 2022 that it will keep its restaurants open in Russia. However, it allocated $3 million for the support of Ukrainian refugees, further stating that Ukrainian refugees in European nations can receive Whopper meal vouchers at no cost. Restaurant Brands International, the company that owns the Burger King brand, told the BBC that it would “redirect its profits from more than 800 franchised operations in Russia to humanitarian efforts.”

Despite the sanctions on Russia, brands like Pepsi and Burger King continue their humanitarian efforts to ensure that the Russian people do not suffer due to an invasion in which they play no part.

– Chris Karenbauer
Photo: Unsplash

Italy’s Stimulus
On May 1, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced the approval of the new economic stimulus package dedicated to minimizing the impact of the war in Ukraine on Italian citizens and workers. Italy has a heavy reliance on many imported Russian goods. Of all the European Union nations, Italy will likely face the worst economic growth and supply chain issues the country has seen for decades.

The Economic Difficulties Causing the Need for Italy’s Stimulus Package

Italy’s stimulus package comes to lessen the impact of the war in Ukraine. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) makes economic growth predictions annually. After the beginning of the war, the EIU changed its forecasts. The original projection for Italy’s economy was a growth rate of 4.4% but decreased to 3.4% within three months. Due to the investments and changes Italy must make over the next few months to support its economy and citizens the stimulus package will be necessary to aid future economic growth and security.

Russia originally supplied around 40% of Italy’s gas supply. Italy is determined to lessen its dependence on Russian gas and had been looking to do so before the conflict, but the war has sped up the need for change. Italy is hoping to increase its reliance on Algeria for its gas supply. Still, additional factors are at play with the deal Italy and Algeria have struck. According to Politico, Algeria needs to update its infrastructure for the gas industry, as investments in that sector have been lacking. The need for gas most likely means Italy must be the primary investor in the industry to receive the amount of gas necessary to support the country’s needs.

One of the other sectors that the lack of Russian support will hit the hardest is the tourism industry. Italy’s tourism industry, which like that of most nations experienced a decline in tourist numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, will not recover to its original numbers without the assistance of Russian tourists. Overall, Russian tourists are only a small percentage of Italy’s tourists, about 1.5%. However, their economic impact is still significant because of how much they spend. Russian tourists spend almost €1 billion in Italy in 2019, La Prensa Latina reports. Countless other Italian industries and business sectors will suffer due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the domino effect it has had on economies worldwide. Italian citizens will be incredibly grateful for the government’s quick moves to draft the stimulus package.

How is it Different from Past Stimulus Packages?

This new stimulus package is not Italy’s first. The government sent out the last of Italy’s most recent stimulus packages in March 2021 for €32 billion. Around €11 billion in that package went to companies that lost at least 30% of their income in 2020. Eight billion euros of the stimulus was for fighting poverty and supporting employment and those in unemployment too. The COVID-19 stimulus package allocated €900 million for seasonal workers and €5 billion for purchasing vaccines and unexpected additional health care costs.

Prime Minister Draghi said this about Italy’s stimulus package in 2021, “This decree is a significant and very coherent response to poverty and businesses, it is a partial response, but it is the maximum that we have been able to do,” Euronews reports. Italian absolute poverty decreased from 7.7% in 2020 to 7.5% in 2021, showing a positive trend and the overarching benefits of Italy’s stimulus packages.

Overall, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy spent more than €200 billion to counteract economic damages. Thankfully, by the end of 2021, Italy’s economy grew by 6.5%, having recovered from the worst of the financial crises that the pandemic initiated. Italy’s stimulus package in 2022 provides hope and expectations for a similar recovery despite the difficulties.

What Will This Stimulus Package Do for Italy?

Italy’s stimulus package in response to the war in Ukraine has various components, including individual bonuses of €200 to middle and low-income families. The package secures bank loans too and directs funds at supporting families struggling with the cost of living as prices skyrocket. One of the most burdensome costs internationally is the cost of gas. The Italian government extended the cut on rising gas prices. The prices cannot increase an additional 25 cents per liter (0.25 gallons) of gas until at least July 8, 2022, when the government hopes to have the rising prices under control.

Rising prices dramatically changed Italians’ ability to purchase construction materials. Thus, the Italian government is setting aside €3 billion to help the construction companies immediately battle these prices. According to Reuters, Italy’s stimulus package sets aside an additional €400,000 in grants and funding for guarantees on bank loans and grants for all types of firms and companies impacted by the sanctions on Russian companies and products.

The funding for most of Italy’s stimulus package comes from newly created taxes on energy companies. The taxes ensure that the burden of significantly increased prices does not fall on the individuals who have been struggling since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Aid to Ukraine
Tensions mounted between the Russian and Ukrainian governments for years following the fall of the Soviet Union. But, in the latter half of 2021, Russia drew immediate international attention to the region when it built up a military presence along the Russia-Ukraine border. The aggressive action received immediate criticism from the international community, and on Feb. 24, 2022, the United Nations Security Council convened to discourage further conflict. Amid the meeting, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are providing aid to Ukraine in response to the invasion.

The Humanitarian Consequences

Since the invasion in February 2022, Ukraine has noted more than 1,500 casualties. As of March 11, 2022, more than 3 million refugees have fled to neighboring countries and experts predict that the conflict will have broader ramifications for international security. Russian military attacks crippled hospitals and residential areas, and against this backdrop of violence, Ukrainians both in and out of the country lack important resources. Vulnerable populations, including women, children and those below the poverty line, particularly need help as they lack basic medical services and necessities like food, water and shelter.

3 Organizations Providing Aid to Ukraine

Amid the protests and violence, several countries and organizations expressed their support for the Ukrainian people by providing aid to Ukraine.

  1. CARE. As an international humanitarian organization founded in 1945 to fight global poverty, CARE provides aid to Ukraine and other conflict-ridden countries. Following the crisis in Ukraine, the organization began initiatives to assist the people most in need, especially women, children and the elderly. The organization “aims to reach 4 million people” through its Ukraine Crisis Fund and partnership with fellow organization People in Need to “distribute urgently needed emergency supplies such as food, water, hygiene kits and cash to cover daily needs.” On March 3, 2022, these necessities arrived in Lviv, Ukraine, through trucks filled with “food, diapers and sleeping bags.” In the meantime, People in Need is handing out food in heated tents to civilians along the Slovak-Ukrainian border.
  2. Project HOPE. This NGO tackles the need for medical supplies and mental health resources. Response teams on the ground coordinate with local groups to assist refugees and provide assistance to hospitals in Ukraine. On March 14, 2022, Project HOPE  shipped “22 pallets of antibiotics and surgical supplies to Lviv.” The organization is also helping hospitals maintain some normal functions while assisting displaced people with otherwise limited access to health care services. Additionally, Project HOPE provided mental health resources to refugees in Romania by supporting local NGOs, noting that “mental health needs are the most urgent health concerns for refugees at this time” as Ukrainians enter countries where they have no social network or support system.
  3. Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator developed the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund to direct money toward relevant, effective organizations, including the Red Cross, vetted international and national NGOs and United Nations agencies. The fund lets individuals indirectly allocate aid to Ukraine. Though the pooled fund underwent establishment in 2019, the effort is more important than before as ReliefWeb notes that, since Feb. 24, 2022, “Ukraine’s security and humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly.” The fund provides the necessary money for “health care, food aid, clean water, shelter and other humanitarian assistance” throughout Ukraine. As the crisis worsens, the United Nations can ensure funding “reaches the people most in need when they need it.” Like CARE and Project HOPE, this fund accepts donations straight from ordinary citizens to achieve humanitarian objectives.

Looking Ahead

Though it may seem difficult to imagine an end to the years-long conflict, individuals, organizations and countries across the world are directing their attention to hurt and displaced Ukrainian populations and there are ways for ordinary citizens to help. As the crisis unfolds, it is more important than ever for ongoing relief efforts to both receive and provide aid to Ukraine to protect vulnerable populations.

– Lauren Sung
Photo: Flickr