Will Post-Soviet Russia’s Economic Gains Be Wiped Out by Ukraine War in 2022?

September 28, 2022
RM Staff

stocksThree months after the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine, economist Anders Aslund wrote that, by starting the war, President Vladimir Putin had “in a single day … wiped out most of the economic gains Russia had made since 1991.” CNBC issued a similar verdict in March. While the word “most” would typically mean more than 50%, Aslund clarified to RM that his assessment wasn’t meant to be strictly quantitative—more a turn of phrase to describe the scale of Western sanctions’ impact on Russia.1 Nevertheless, we think it is important to determine how much of Russia’s past gains in economic output may be erased by Putin’s war in Ukraine by the end of this year. Would the forecasted losses amount to more than half, i.e., “most”?

Here's what we found: If “economic gains” are measured as growth of GDP—the only metric for which sufficient data is available2—and if the latest projections of changes to Russia’s GDP in 2022 from the World Bank and IMF are more or less correct, then the decline in Russian economic gains this year will total about 16%-24% of the gains accrued from 1992 to 2021, which is far from “most.”

The table below shows the increase in Russia’s inflation-adjusted GDP from 1992 to 2021 by three different measures and the forecasted drop in GDP between 2021 and 2022, including the World Bank’s June 2022  forecast that Russia’s real GDP will contract by 8.9% this year and the IMF July 2022 forecast that Russia’s real GDP growth will total -6%.3

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