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Effects of sanctions: Russians pay double for food. The poorest panic, buying sugar and buckwheat

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Russian government figures show that annual food inflation rose to 18.75% on April 1, as the economy feels affected by Western sanctions imposed on Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine.

Oleg Kobiakov, of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said many Russian households are now resorting to crisis management strategies as much of their income goes to basic necessities such as food.

“People postpone plans such as going to college or buying a house. They save if they lose their job or someone close to them dies,” he said.

An average EU household spends about 12% of its income on food, he said, adding that while hunger is not a danger in Russia, poorer households will face increased levels of food insecurity.

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Many Russians have been buying panic-based commodities, such as sugar and buckwheat, since the war for fear that prices will continue to rise, increasing pressure on the government to reduce inflation.

Moscow is considering regulating the prices of food, medicine and other goods and has temporarily banned some agricultural exports. It could also move on to setting the price in rubles for almost all of its exports of goods.

While the measures have had some impact on curbing consumer inflation, they are still expected to accelerate to 23.7% this year, the highest level since 1999, according to a Reuters poll.

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The poll also estimates that Russia’s economy will shrink by 7.3% in 2022 – the deepest contraction since 2009.

Kobiakov said wages in Russia had remained roughly the same since the start of the war, but with rising prices, purchasing power has eroded and people are worried about job security, with many Western companies withdrawing from the country.

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