Wednesday , May 29 2024

Vietnamese in Russia worried about economic fallout of western sanctions

Amid the global sanctions against Russia, Khanh An did not know if she should also run to the bank to withdraw money like her friends did.

“Many people in Moscow went to the bank to withdraw their money,” the Vietnamese studying for a PhD program in Russia, told VnExpress at 2 p.m. local time Monday (7 p.m. Hanoi time).

Nanks had sent messages to reassure customers saying they are committed to maintaining all operations and would function normally, she said.

She admitted to not thinking that the tensions between Russia and Ukraine would escalate to such a level.

Now she is worried the sanctions could affect her life.

The Central Bank of Russia on Monday raised its benchmark interest rate to 20 percent from 9.5 percent a day after announcing a series of measures to support the local market against the consequences of the west’s sanctions for launching a military operation against Ukraine.

Western nations on Feb. 26 announced the exclusion of a number of Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payment system and a series of other measures to prevent Russia from trying to evade the sanctions.

The new measures have the potential to deal a severe blow to the Russian economy by making it difficult for Russian banks and companies to access the international financial system.

The country’s currency, the ruble, fell nearly 30 percent to an all-time low against the dollar Monday.

“Since flight routes between Russia and Vietnam have not been affected yet, so I am not too worried about my plan to return home this summer,” As said.

“However, I’m worried I won’t be able to continue receiving my scholarship since it is in dollars. Now I’m feeling a bit anxious, worrying how my life will be affected in the near future.”

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a special military operation in Ukraine, An’s family and friends have been regularly calling up to inquire about her well-being.

She always tells them to remain calm since she lives in Moscow, which is very safe besides being far away from the conflict zone.

She said her friends in another city are having a hard time trying to withdraw cash in dollars.

“They queued in front of the bank from 10 a.m. to noon. Their families have also withdrawn money in the past few days, each withdrawing several million rubles (1 million rubles = US$9,523).”

She thought she should soon withdraw what little money she has because of the rising uncertainty.

She also feared that tensions with Ukraine “could lead to unwanted security incidents” in Russia.

Viet An, another Vietnamese student in Moscow, recounted a trip to the city of Nizhny Novgorod last week where she noticed that the atmosphere was a bit more tense with more police officers patrolling the streets than usual.

She got the feeling that foreigners like her got more attention from them.

“A Russian told me and my friends that because the situation in Ukraine is very tense it is best for us to limit going out. If we need to venture out, this person advised me to book a car to avoid risks from extremists.”

She too had not expected the tensions between Russia and Ukraine to become so complicated.

“But I can feel that the rhythm of life has been interrupted and things might get even more serious.”

She said many Russian friends were worried about the value of the ruble and stocks, and that the Russian economy could worsen in the near future.

The military operation to “demilitarize and de-fascist Ukraine” launched by President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 24 has now gone on for nearly a week with fierce fighting continuing in Kyiv and many other Ukrainian cities.

The two sides agreed on February 27 to start the first negotiations in Belarus.

A Russian delegate said his country wants to reach an agreement with Ukraine to bring about peace.

Khanh An said: “I hope the talks between the two sides will yield positive results. I think everyone hopes the same thing.

“The war is affecting daily life in Russia a lot more than we ever imagined.”

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