Russia Running Out of Pretty Much Everything as Sanctions Bite

Sanctions imposed on Russia by Western nations in response to President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine have contributed to a nationwide shortage of fuel, while some items typically readily available are now in short supply.

Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, Russia has become subject to more than 13,000 restrictions. This makes it the world’s most-sanctioned country, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace notes.

The effects are being felt nationwide, with support for the war falling as Russians feel the financial pinch caused by sanctions. This is according to a poll by an independent Moscow group, released a year into the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin operates a Mi-171A2 helicopter flight simulator at the training center of an aviation factory in the East Siberian city of Ulan-Ude on March 14, 2023. Russia’s aviation industry has been greatly impacted by Western sanctions.MIKHAIL METZEL/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images

Even Kremlin propagandists have bemoaned the impact of sanctions on Russia. TV anchor Ivan Trushkin, during a segment on the show Mesto Vstrechi (Meeting Place) in December 2022, asked a guest why Russia had access to different currencies such as dollars and euros “but we cannot spend them on what we want because of those very sanctions.”

That clip was shared by Ukrainian interior affairs adviser Anton Geraschenko, who wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “We can buy what we want. We can’t buy what we need,” in referring to Russia’s predicament, before adding, “Sanctions are working.”

Nine months on, the restrictions are increasingly impacting the daily lives of Russians.

Konstantin Sonin, a Russian-born political economist from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, told Newsweek he believes that reports in Russian media of shortages are a clear signal that the government tries to suppress prices. This is done either by some regulatory measures, or by threatening enterprises and sellers with retaliation.

“Western sanctions seriously disrupt the Russian economy. At the very least, they increase production costs for Russian enterprises,” Sonin said.

Because of sanctions, the Russian military industry pays more for every foreign input, because now it includes paying additional money to intermediaries, bearing legal costs of avoidance, and losing more to thieves and crooks as any concealed transaction is a fertile ground for stealing.

“Sanctions cannot destroy the Russian economy—sanctions are not missiles or bombs—but they slow down the production and decrease the volume of what Russia produces,” Sonin added.


Russia, one of the world’s biggest producers of oil and gas, is facing fuel shortages nationwide, according to officials and state-run media.

“There is an on-going, extensive and systemic fuel distribution problem in Russia,” Trent Telenko, a former official at the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Management Agency who has studied Russian military logistics, wrote on X on September 9.

On August 23, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported gasoline shortages at fuel stations across the country. This happened in the cities of Astrakhan, Volgograd, Saratov, Ryazan, and Novosibirsk, as well as in the Republic of Kalmykia.

Days later, on September 6, Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said these fuel shortages threaten to disrupt fall harvesting and sowing.

“We already have problems with the availability [of fuel]. We will now stop harvesting, and we will not sow winter crops. It will be a disaster,” Patrushev was quoted by state-run news agency Intermix as saying. “Maybe it’s time to temporarily stop exports of oil products until we stabilize the situation on the domestic market.”

Russian oil and gas analyst Mikhail Krutikhin told the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta that oil companies, due to sanctions, have found it more profitable to sell everything abroad.

“That is, to export as much as possible and get at least some money there,” said Krutikhin. “Moreover, this is happening throughout the country; even in the Far East, fuel shortages have begun to be felt. They export everything that is possible.”

Sonin added, however, that, in a market economy, “there cannot be a ‘shortage of fuel'” as “it would result in rising prices and no shortage because of a lower demand at higher prices.”


Large publishing houses in Russia have been forced to shift to using domestically produced paper, which is in short supply. Sergei Moiseev, the president of the Guild of Periodical Press Publishers, told this to the 360 TV channel late last month.

“All printing is under sanctions, absolutely everything…That is, not only paper, but also ink, and the worst thing is spare parts for equipment, because all the equipment is imported,” Moiseev said. He added that foreign machinery is also needed to manufacture paper. “The chemicals used to make paper are imported, so prices have increased.”

Moiseev added that, while there is a paper shortage, he wouldn’t call it a catastrophic deficit.


Wood-processing enterprises in Russia face a shortage of a crucial component for the production of plywood—phenol formaldehyde resin—and are urging the government to limit exports of the substance, daily newspaper Kommersant reported in May.

Plywood is used for walls, roof lining, ceilings, furniture and cladding. Russia’s largest plywood manufacturer, Sveza, said the shortage became particularly noticeable in April.

Cell-Phone Towers

Cell-phone reception in Russia has been affected due to shortages of equipment and spare parts caused by Western sanctions, according to local media reports.

Foreign telecommunications companies including Nokia and Ericsson left Russia after the full-scale invasion began, and domestic equipment for cell-phone towers do not yet meet the requirements of operators in the country.

This, among other factors, has “forced operators to operate under unprecedented equipment shortages,” analysts told Kommersant.

Five senior telecoms executives and other industry sources told Reuters in December 2022 that Russian cell-phone users will likely experience slower downloads and uploads, an increase in dropped calls and ones that won’t connect, and longer outages.


A spare parts supply crisis is brewing in Russia, with logistics companies facing a shortage of tires and lubricants for their imported tractors. This is because of Western manufacturers leaving Russia in response to Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, business news outlet Vedomosti reported in May.

Researchers at Yale University say more than 1,000 foreign companies have exited or curtailed operations in Russia since the war began.

“When Western tire manufacturers left Russia, transport workers were forced to look for any alternative options. At the same time, issues of timely deliveries and maintaining the necessary stock have been pushed to the background,” Sanjar Ashuraliev, CEO of transport company Delko, told the publication.

Airplane Parts

The aviation industry has also been impacted by Western sanctions. Kommersant reported in May that, in 2022, Russian airlines performed 2,000 flights using Western aircraft with expired parts.

“We have recorded many instances of aviation equipment being operated with violations that directly affect flight safety,” Viktor Basargin, the head of state transportation watchdog Rostransnadzor, was quoted as saying. “Some specific products are simply impossible to bring in.”

As a result, the Russian aviation industry has been thrown into a full-blown crisis, creating disruptions to its commercial fleet and additional challenges to maintaining its air force.

Other Vital Components

Western-imposed sanctions have also contributed to a ball-bearing shortage in Russia, which is having a knock-on effect on the production of military vehicles, analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. found in April.

In April 2022, Swedish bearing manufacturer SKF Group ceased all business and operations in Russia in response to the war in Ukraine. It had operated in the country since 1991.

“Historically, Russia has imported most of its high-quality bearings from Western manufacturers,” CSIS analysts said. “In 2020, for instance, Russia imported over $419 million worth of ball bearings, around 55 percent of which originated in Europe and North America; Germany was Russia’s largest trading partner, taking up 17 percent of its total imports that year.

“Following the start of the invasion, major Western producers of bearings exited Russia and ended their sales there,” the analysts said.

Western sanctions have created shortages of higher-end foreign components and are forcing Moscow to substitute them with lower-quality alternatives.

“For now, Moscow’s efforts at state-backed import substitution remain largely unsuccessful,” the analysts added.

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