Vladimir Putin’s tit-for-tat sanctions against food imports from the West have driven consumer price inflation in Russia to 8% in September — its highest point in three years and way above the Russian central bank’s target of 5% to 6%.
The figures will be a headache for policymakers faced with a sluggish economy on the one hand, struggling under Western sanctions imposed because of Russia’s role in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and swiftly rising prices on the other.
Last month, Putin backed price freezes for natural gas, power, and rail in 2014 in an effort to restrain inflation, but so far his government has refused to ease up on the self-imposed sanctions that are widely blamed for pushing up prices.
Those sanctions have barred various food imports from the West. Predictably, this has led to shortages of certain types of food: brie and parmesan being two, according to USA Today. Prices of some staples have risen 36%.
It is not the case that Russia is facing the kind of food shortages it saw in the Soviet era — with breadlines — or in the 1990s, after it defaulted on its national debt. But it is the case that certain Western food products are becoming unavailable and domestic products are rising in price.
On Friday, Russia’s Agriculture Ministry said it was not ready to consider the “possibility of liberalizing the list” of banned products that include meat, fish, dairy, fruit, and vegetables from the United States, the EU, Australia, Canada, and Norway.
Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov told the Russian news agency TASS:
We are waiting for them to come to their senses and reassess their perception of Russia in a civilized way.