As Western nations announced sanctions in a bid to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offensive against Ukraine, ordinary Russians across the country formed long lines at ATMs.
According to a Guardian reportan ATM at Tinkoff Bank in Moscow’s Metropolis shopping center had already run out of cash by the time its customers were told they could use it to withdraw dollars.
“These consequences are very unpleasant indeed,” one man told The Telegraph on Monday. “I haven’t used silver for five years, this will probably have a big impact on me.”
Russia on Monday banned residents from foreign currency loans and transfers abroad, in response to the sanctions.
Earlier in the day, Russia’s central bank more than doubled interest rates from 9.5% to 20% in a bid to stave off bank runs and prop up the rouble, which at one point given fell to 0.88 US cents. The Russian stock exchange remained closed on Monday, while the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions against the Russian central bank.
Anton Troianovski, Moscow bureau chief of The New York Times, told PBS NewsHour on Sunday that the fluctuating value of the ruble “obviously is a big problem” for the country.
“Russians have gotten used to, and Moscow’s middle class in particular, being able to make cheap trips abroad and it’s going to become much more difficult, if not impossible,” Troianovski said.
According to an ABC News report, about $10 billion was withdrawn from Russian banks last week.
“It’s not the Soviet Union anymore,” ABC News correspondent James Longman said. “It’s the 21st century. Russians like to live a modern life.
Longman also detailed the changes Russians are seeing in their daily lives. He said restaurants are now asking customers to bring cash for fear of not being able to complete a financial transaction with a card, after many countries, including the United States, announced that some banks Russians would be cut off from the SWIFT global payment system.
Customers using mobile systems, including Apple Pay, to pay for public transport in Moscow were warned over the weekend that they could face disruption as one of the banks handling card payments for the metro, bus and train was subject to sanctions.
BP said it would divest its shares in a Russian oil giant, and shipping companies including UPS and FedEx stopped shipping to Russia, a move that could further isolate the country from the rest of the world.
As Putin puts Russian nuclear forces on high alert, Russians across the country continue to protest his war on Ukraine. Nearly 1,500 people were arrested on Sunday in 45 different cities, according to the rights group OVD-Info.
“This is not a Russian people’s war,” said opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza. told the BBC. “This is not a war of the Russian people against the Ukrainian people. This is yet another military adventure, a military crime committed by an unelected, irresponsible, authoritarian and frankly increasingly deranged Kremlin dictator by the name of Vladimir Poutine.