Russia is a highly controversial country today, with many people questioning what the government’s policies are and how the citizens of Russia truly feel about their leaders. In any case, poverty in Russia is a problem. From wealth inequality to political corruption, Russia’s poverty challenges are multi-dimensional.
Russia’s poverty rate is on the rise
In the late 1990’s Russia’s poverty rates rose to 29 percent. In the early 2000s, incomes increased and allowed a significant amount of people to rise above the poverty line. Poverty rates in the early 2000s stayed constant at around 10 percent. Unfortunately, the poverty rate has seen an increase in recent years, with 13.5 percent of Russians living in poverty in 2016.
Politics drastically affect poverty in Russia
Russia’s longtime leader Vladimir Putin secured a fourth term on March 18 and has been widely criticized by many leaders around the globe for aggressive military actions and corruption. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia after the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. These sanctions have led to increased poverty in Russia, as well as food shortages.
Falling oil prices have led to an increase in poverty
Along with economic sanctions, rapidly falling oil prices have severely reduced Russia’s revenue from oil exports. As a result, the economy in Russia has been hit hard and its people have seen an increase in poverty rates.
Wealth inequality is a major problem
The contrast between the rich and the poor in Russia is apparent. Studies have shown that Russia’s most affluent 10 percent control roughly 77 percent of the wealth. Despite this, Putin has made it clear that he wishes to invest in infrastructure in Russia and do everything possible to decrease economic dependence on Western powers.
The embargo on western foods has not helped Russia
In 2014, the Russian government banned the importation of many food products from Western countries in response to Western-imposed sanctions. This embargo was meant to hurt the West, but it also led to a heightened food scarcity, especially for those struggling with poverty in Russia.
Russia’s agricultural sector struggles
Russia has been known to have large amounts of barren farmland, which makes food production difficult. Coupled with the embargo on Western products, it has led to a very turbulent economy and a lack of confidence in food security over the last 10 years.
Rural citizens are providing poverty solutions
Russia’s rural citizens often enjoy a higher quality of life due to their ability to grow food and produce products others need. With the food embargo, many of Russia’s rural citizens have been pressured to produce more and, as a result, have found new ways to produce more products domestically.
Short-term solutions are unlikely
Russia would undoubtedly benefit from more friendly relationships with Western territories and its neighbors in the East. While this is unlikely given Putin’s recent military actions and opinions on Western power, the poverty-stricken citizens in Russia would benefit from a long-term lift of sanctions and embargos.
Russia needs a more cohesive strategy to fight poverty
Russia needs to build more cohesive poverty-fighting strategies if it wishes to increase the quality of life for its citizens. Putin has said that his government wishes to increase domestic spending on infrastructure and poverty reduction, but have not clearly stated what actions it will take or where it will get the funding.
Russia’s battle with poverty is far from over
Russia’s economic hardships are not going to see an end overnight. Many of its issues are long-standing and notoriously difficult to improve. With new conflicts arising with the West and Russia’s neighbors, it’s hard to envision a quick path to poverty resolution.
Poverty in Russia is ongoing and multi-dimensional. Diminishing oil profits, one-dimensional economic conditions and government sanctions play a major role in the poverty problems in Russia. A struggling agricultural sector and sanctions on U.S. goods cause serious problems for food security in Russia. The country has a long road ahead in an attempt to reduce poverty within its borders.