Russian billionaire warns the country has ‘never faced such a challenge’ as Western sanctions ramp up
- The West’s sanctions will create a crisis that’s three times worse than Russia’s meltdown in 1998, warned Oleg Deripaska.
- “The crisis will be most severe for a minimum of three years,” he said at an economic conference.
- To avoid further economic turmoil, Russia needs to achieve peace with Ukraine and end the fighting, he said.
The economic pressure Western sanctions are putting on Russia is worse than anything the country has encountered before and will have lasting repercussions, said billionaire Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
“The crisis will be most severe for a minimum of three years,” he said at an economic conference Thursday, according to reports. “Take the 1998 crisis and multiply it by three.”
Deripaska, who founded the aluminum giant Rusal, added Russia has “never faced such a challenge,” the Washington Post reported.
In 1998, the ruble crashed and Moscow defaulted on its debt, prompting a rescue package from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
But now, Russia faces a hostile global response to its invasion of Ukraine. Western sanctions have shut out Russia’s banks and currency reserves from the rest of the world, while companies rush to exit the country and governments look to seize the assets of elites tied to President Vladimir Putin. And more sanctions are on the way.
The effects have been immediate and dramatic. The ruble collapsed to less than a penny, and Russian stocks have been deemed “uninvestable.” Moody’s and Fitch also cut Russia’s credit rating to “junk” status. Russia’s 21 wealthiest individuals have collectively lost $84 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index.
The current sanctions form a new Iron Curtain, cutting off Russia from the Western world, said Deripaska, who is worth $2.9 billion in Forbes’ latest tally. To prevent further economic crisis, Russia must end the fighting in Ukraine and agree to a ceasefire, he added.
“The main and first step is achieving peace on a compromise basis,” Deripaska said.