It’s a bit funny how propaganda works, especially the lies woven by the western elites these last few years. Take the Russian economy, for instance. A recent Twitter trend was #RunOnRussianBanks. With over 8,000 Tweets of photos of a dozen people standing in line in the snow at an ATM, the intent is to create a panic, I guess. Then there are the Washington think tanks claiming the conflict with the west has already set Russia back decades. Ditto, and ditto, at the New York Times and the media following them. If you live in Des Moines, Iowa (for instance), Russia is about to crumble beneath America’s geopolitical, financial, and/or military might.
There’s a problem, however. First, and perhaps foremost, these media and think tank reports are almost all written by Cal Berkeley transplants in Moscow institutions who were sleepers set to man the negative PR campaigning effort against Putin when all hell broke loose. Now, all hell has broken open, and the amplitude has been turned up. On Twitter, nefarious disinformation groups sponsored by the US or Soros, or both, play at the game the same way they blamed Russia for trolling social media. Visegrád Group, for instance, is a rat’s nest of liberal order crazies hell-bent, and I mean hell-bent, on a war on Russia.
Looking at the profiles Visegrad24’s first followed when coming online in 2020, you find assistant exorcist Dominik Tarczyński, the European Parliament’s Polish poster child representing the ruling PiS party. His role, the role of the PiS, has been to transform public media in Poland into a “propaganda mouthpiece” for the government and to attack the enemies of extreme conservatism. Oh, and to hate Putin and Russia some more.
The Visegrad propagandists are fear-mongering now, saying Russia may move past Ukraine to create a corridor through Moldova to connect Transnistria. The point is to get Romania stirred into a reported “transnational” force comprised of US, Polish, and Romanian forces to try and rescue Kyiv from the coming onslaught. When Russia’s General Sergei “Armageddon,” Surovikin gives the command, experts say a “conflict ending” operation will take place against Ukraine’s crippled armed forces. Viagrad is one of the dozens of groups (clans) targeting all things Russian. Now, let’s return to the economics propaganda. Are Russians rushing the banks to get their cash? Or is the Russian economy cash-heavy right now?
Recently, the Bank of Russia agreed to sell the bailed-out Otkritie Bank to state-owned VTB (VTBR.MM) for 340 billion roubles ($4.7 billion). Most of the deal is to be carried out in cash, with the rest in OFZ treasury bonds. I mention this deal because VTB fell under some of the toughest sanctions imposed by the West on Russia’s financial sector. Nevertheless, they seem liquid enough to fork over billions to buy a distressed bank. Then there’s the Institute of International Finance projection that Russia will post a record $250 billion cash surplus this year. Add to this the fact that Russia’s Central Bank still holds over $300 billion in foreign currencies to leverage currency and debt markets, and you get the right picture of where Russian’s stand. And they’re not rushing in mass to withdraw their rubles.
Due to this international reset mess, Russia’s trade balance is at a record high right now. The surplus for January-September was $198.4 billion, roughly $120 billion higher than for the same period in 2021 and more than double the previous record in 2008. And this is from NPR, not Tass, RT, Fox News, or me. Finally, EU President Ursula von der Leyen’s snarky oil price cap on Russian oil has far backfired. As of last week, Oil prices sat at $3 per barrel higher for a second straight week of gains after Moscow said it could cut crude output in response to the G7 price cap on Russian exports. Meanwhile, India is consuming Russian fossil fuels at ever-increasing rates, and it appears Mr. Putin is preparing to reopen rail loading terminals in East Siberia to increase crude shipments to China and the Asia-Pacific region.
Finally, I just phoned my good friends Evgeny, Ramilya, Sasha, and a countess from the French Riviera I know who just moved to Moscow about all this. Their advice on a cash run was unanimously in favor of staying at home or visiting Red Square for beautiful seasonal festivities. Russia is not broken yet.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.