Russia ‘weaker every day’ says Major John Spencer
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It is not known precisely how many Russian citizens have fled the country since the invasion of Ukraine began, with one Russian economist placing the figure at around 200,000 as of mid-March. The figure is likely far higher now, according to Jeanne Batalova, senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute – and in the latest blow to Vladimir Putin, many of them would rather live in the UK.
A Russian source living in the UK told Express.co.uk they had seen a “surge” in demand for “Russian nationals seeking to enter the UK on a global talent visa.”
They added that these include “artists, photographers and event organisers.”
The latest surge in Russians leaving their country comes as its economy faces a substantial contraction. The Russian economy shrunk by 4 percent year-on-year over the second quarter, although this was less sharp than the 5 percent expected by analysts.
Currency expert Patrick Reid told Express.co.uk: “I think they’ve held up remarkably well – but there’s no clear-cut feeling for me. On the one hand, Russia will never really recover to the economic picture it had before the invasion.
“And then on the other hand, they’ve been so resilient in surviving a brutal collapse and surviving so far.”
Mr Reid added that Russia’s durability was largely down to its domination of the European gas and oil markets.
Chris Weafer, CEO of Moscow-based Macro-Advisory, said: “Despite the onslaught of sanctions, and the predictions of many observers, Russia’s economy has not imploded.”
He added that its economy was “floundering, not drowning”.
But Jeanne Batalova told CNBC that “once the flow begins” of people fleeing a country, “that prompts more people to leave”.
The Russian source explained that there were three groups of civilians now in Russia – most of whom want to escape the country.
They said: “I believe there are at least three groups here. Those who believe the propaganda that the country is cleansing itself now that non-patriots are leaving.
“Then there are those who are very concerned about the long-term future of Russia and wish they had an opportunity to leave too. And some worry about the country losing its talents and young hopefuls, but they can’t imagine themselves living anywhere but Russia.”
In the tech sector alone, an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 professionals left in the first month of the war.
Mikhail Mizhinsky, founder of Relocode, a company that helps tech businesses relocate, said that some were forced to move out of obligation.
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He said: “Most of them don’t necessarily want to leave Russia, where their home is. But, on the other hand, they have their clients who buy their IT outsourced products and services who demanded them to leave.
“Many got letters from clients who said they would terminate their contracts if they did not leave Russia.”
The Russian source similarly added to Express.co.uk that many Russians were facing discrimination following the war when it came to their bank accounts.
They said: “Quite a few Russians had their accounts suspended since the war, having done nothing wrong: not under sanctions or dealing with sanctioned individuals and businesses. This discrimination is really unjustified.”
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