Russia's Invasion of Ukraine (Official Thread)

Orbital-Fetus

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China is not anticipated to require additional gas supplies until after 2040.
When did China become self sufficient in terms of oil/gas? They got stockpiles and reserves like that? :lupe:

Like most people observing this war I think the kid gloves should've been taken off from the jump. The only good thing about waiting to hit them on their own land is that it lead them to become comfortable and lax in defence. Hopefully Ukraine continues to take advantage of this change in tactics.
The good thing is that Russia hasn't used any chemical weapons, which means that they're wary of NATO intervening.
 

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1/1
Storm Shadow missiles fired at Russia with UK consent now.

Ukraine fired Storm Shadow missiles into Russian territory with London's permission, Yuriy Sak, Adviser to Ukraine's Minister of Strategic Industries said.


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The U.S. allows Ukraine to use transferred air defense systems on the territory of the Russian Federation, WaPo reports.

"There is no restriction."


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1/1
BREAKING: Two senior Biden administration officials opened the door today to allowing Ukraine to use American-donated weapons to strike military targets inside Russia.


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Canada allows use of its weapons for strikes on targets in Russia​

Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly stated that her country imposes no conditions on the Armed Forces of Ukraine regarding the use of weapons provided by Ottawa

Vlada Dubyk

News editor at LIGA.net

MAY 29, 17:48

Canada allows use of its weapons for strikes on targets in Russia
Mélanie Joly (Photo: Mélanie Joly/Instagram) Fuel Ukrainian journalists with a cup of coffee

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are permitted to use weaponry supplied by Canada to strike military targets on Russian territory, as Ottawa has not imposed any conditions on Kyiv, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced during a press conference with her Swedish counterpart Tobias Billström.

Stay updated with the latest news by following us on X (Twitter)

According to Joly, the issue of granting this permission is important for Canada. She noted that she had spoken with the Swedish Foreign Minister about lifting restrictions on Ukraine's ability to hit targets in Russia with allied weapons.

"And in Canada, there are no conditions for supplying weapons to Ukraine, so we will continue to work with the Armed Forces of Ukraine," she said.

The Canadian minister believes her country should be at the forefront of this issue because Russia has no "red lines" in the war. She said that Ottawa is ready to continue supporting Ukraine and demonstrate that Canada stands by its side.

She added that her country would discuss the issue with other NATO allies at upcoming meetings.
 

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It’s cheaper to die than to live: how coffins and funeral services have risen in price in Erethia​



RussiaDisintegration #РозвалРосії


The war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed by the economic giants of Europe and the United States have triggered a rise in prices at coffins and funeral services in Russia.


According to the Federal State Statistics Service, since January 2022:

coffin making has risen in price by 52%, to 6,730 rubles;

grave digging – by 13%, to 8765 rubles;

cremation – by 36%, to 28,700 rubles.


And that’s not the last price hike; a new price tag is on the way.

Such a substantial increase in prices for crosses, coffins, and funeral fences is due to the rising cost of raw materials – metal and wood, according to funeral home owners. In fact, the price of boards and metal tiles has risen by 2-2.5 times, including the fact that some of the materials were previously purchased in Ukraine. Quite symbolic, isn’t it?

On the contrary, Vladimir Rodkin, Vice President of the Union of Funeral Organizations and Crematoriums (UFC), claims that raw materials are now cheaper, but there are other factors, such as logistics and rising wages, that matter. In particular, a large number of components come from China, the supply of which has risen significantly.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the cost of funerals has increased by about 30% – up to 120 thousand for burial in a cemetery and up to 50 thousand for cremation. But it all depends on the region and the wishes of relatives. Coffin prices range from 4 thousand to infinity. The price of digging graves is also very high.

Amid this rise in prices, Russians have begun to save money on funerals for their loved ones. Instead of a solid stone tombstone, they may choose a wooden cross. As a result, the volume of the Russian funeral services market grew by only 5% in 2022, which is lower than the inflation rate.

The demand for cremation has grown significantly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, now accounting for 70-72% of the total number of burials. Since this ritual in the Russian capital costs an average of 130-150 thousand rubles, a “false cremation” service has been introduced. A farewell ceremony takes place in the farewell hall, and then the coffin with the body is conditionally lowered down in an elevator or sent into the wall. The body is taken to another city for cremation, and after a while, the family is simply given an urn with the ashes and the relevant documents.

In anticipation of the ban on the export of unprocessed wood, Russian traders are increasing their exports abroad, and amid a shortage, domestic prices are being brought up to export prices, so soon Russians are burying the dead in cardboard boxes or black bags.

They already have this experience. Although, knowing the attitude of people behind the curb, we would not be surprised if they just bury them and forget. And if so, then such a state will be short-lived. Because the state is first and foremost people, and only after that, everything else.

The materials are prepared by Polina Romanova of “The Ukrainian Women’s Guard” for “Free Idel-Ural”
 

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Survivors say Russia is waging a war of sexual violence in occupied areas of Ukraine. Men are often the victims​

By Ivana Kottasová and Olga Voitovych, CNN

15 minute read

Updated 4:53 AM EDT, Thu May 30, 2024

20240105-ukraine-sexual-violence-gfx.jpg

Photo Illustration by CNN/Getty Images/Sergeev Pavel

Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic and disturbing descriptions of sexual violence.

KyivCNN —

Within an hour of being arrested by Russian security forces, Roman Shapovalenko was threatened with rape.

On August 25, 2022, the day after Ukraine’s Independence Day, he said three armed, masked officers from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) stormed his home in the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson, which was occupied by Russian forces at the time.

They turned his house inside out searching for incriminating evidence. A message in Shapovalenko’s phone that called Russian soldiers “orcs” — a derisive reference to the evil forces in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth books and a popular Ukrainian slur for the Russian army — was enough for them. He said he was tied up, blindfolded and stuffed into an unmarked car.

For days after, Shapovalenko said he was repeatedly electrocuted in his genital area, threatened with being raped with a glass bottle, and was even made to believe he could be sterilized.

“They seemed to have a fetish for genitalia. Sometimes the door would open, and they would say: ‘We’re going to take out our batons and we’re going to rape everyone here,’” the 39-year-old farm manager told CNN.

Describing the graphic detail of his experience matter-of-factly, Shapovalenko sometimes paused to laugh nervously. He said his sense of humor is helping with what he knows will be a long recovery. The Russians, he said, hated it. “I made a little joke, and they didn’t like it. I got punched for that.”

Shapovalenko’s experience of sexual violence at the hands of Russian forces is common among Ukrainians – including civilians and soldiers – who have been detained since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country more than two years ago.

Human rights monitors have long reported on the rampant use of sexual violence by Russian police and security forces against prisoners and detainees in Russia. Now it seems Russia is exporting the practice to occupied Ukraine.

A Ukrainian soldier walks through the basement of a restaurant that was allegedly used as a torture site by Russian forces during the occupation of Snihurivka in southern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian soldier walks through the basement of a restaurant that was allegedly used as a torture site by Russian forces during the occupation of Snihurivka in southern Ukraine.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Few men have spoken publicly about their ordeal, but Ukrainian prosecutors and rights groups say male victims make up a growing proportion of cases. The crimes often go unreported because of the stigma and shame associated with them. The latest United Nations Security Council annual report into conflict-related sexual violence said that 85 cases had been documented in Ukraine in 2023 – affecting 52 men, 31 women, one girl and one boy. A separate report from UN rights officials who interviewed 60 male Ukrainian prisoners of war following their release found that 39 were victims of sexual violence while in Russian detention.

CNN interviewed four male survivors, two in person and two by phone, and obtained testimonies from two more, who were held by Russian units across five Ukrainian regions that have been occupied or annexed by Moscow: Kherson, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv and Crimea. All described being subjected to forced nudity, genital electrocution – most often with wires from the Soviet-era military field telephone TA-57, known as “Tapik” – and threats of rape.

Their accounts tallied with cases documented by regional prosecutors in Kyiv, Kherson and Kharkiv and were corroborated by witnesses held in the same detention facilities in Kharkiv and Kherson.



Mariana Checheliuk, a former police officer and animal welfare volunteer, has been relocated at least six times across Russia and occupied Ukraine since she was detained two years ago outside of Mariupol.
RELATED ARTICLEThousands of Ukrainians have been sent to Russian prisons. Ukraine says they’re being held as bargaining chips


Taken together, their stories capture what prosecutors describe as Russia’s systematic and continuing use of sexual violence in occupied areas as part of its efforts to force the Ukrainian people into submission.

“We see it over and over again in different regions under occupation. They use the same method of committing sexual violence, the same method of humiliation, the same method of how they explain it to their victims,” said Anna Sosonska, a Ukrainian prosecutor and the acting chief of the conflict-related sexual violence division in Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General.

Speaking to CNN from her office in Kyiv, Sosonska said that a significant number of documented crimes of sexual violence by Russian troops, including forced nudity, genital mutilation, rape and forced exposure to sexual violence against others, were being carried out against men. “Especially by using electric current on genitals – that is the top of the list,” she said.

‘They all laughed’​

Roman Chernenko said he spent seven months in a “punishment cell” in a prison in the occupied city of Olenivka, in the eastern Donetsk region, after he was captured by Russian troops in Mariupol area. The 29-year-old intelligence officer with the Ukrainian military – who goes by the call sign “Omen” – described being tortured as often as three times a day, every day, for four months.

“Tapik is a military phone with two wires. One is connected to your balls, the other to your finger, and they just keep turning the current up,” he told CNN. “They just keep twisting it until the person tells them what they need.”

He said he believes officers from Russia’s GRU, the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) and the FSB, Russia’s main intelligence agency, all took part in the torture.

Chernenko was released as part of a prisoner exchange in January 2024 and is still recovering from the ordeal. Speaking to CNN a few weeks after his release, on the day he proposed to his girlfriend, he said it was his thoughts of her and his mother that gave him strength to survive captivity.

“They laughed when they tortured me … they told me that my mother was being f**ked by Chechens. They took me to be shot twice, they threatened me with rape,” he said.

CNN asked Russia’s Ministry of Defense, Interior Ministry, FSB, National Guard (Rosgvardia) and the military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, for comment on allegations of sexual violence at specific detention facilities, but has not received any response.

A photo taken in Bucha shows a basement believed to have been used by Russian forces to torture and kill civilians. Ukrainian police said the bodies of five men aged between 24 and 54 were found there.

A photo taken in Bucha shows a basement believed to have been used by Russian forces to torture and kill civilians. Ukrainian police said the bodies of five men aged between 24 and 54 were found there.

Kyodo News/Getty Images

Rape and sexual violence are explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions – the set of international laws that regulate the conduct of armed conflict – and can constitute a war crime. Mock execution is considered a form of torture under international law.

Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), committing rape and sexual violence in a systematic or widespread way is considered a crime against humanity.

According to Ukrainian prosecutors investigating conflict-based sexual violence and abuse, all available evidence indicates that it is a deliberate tactic, part of Russia’s modus operandi in Ukraine.

“It’s in every region that was under occupation. Everywhere that Russian troops were located, we’re seeing cases of sexual violence and gender-based violence. The bottom line is that it looks like it is Russian policy,” Sosonska said.

As of early May, Ukraine has officially recorded 293 cases of sexual violence, although Sosonska said that it is impossible to estimate the real number of crimes that are being committed, particularly in occupied territories which remain inaccessible to its investigators and prosecutors.



A Ukrainian flag flies in a damaged residential area in the city of Borodianka, northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
RELATED ARTICLEWorld must learn from Bosnian war in dealing with sexual violence in Ukraine conflict, report says


Some 37,000 Ukrainian citizens are unaccounted for, according to the Ukrainian ombudsman’s office, with thousands believed to be held in Russian detention and at risk of torture and sexual violence.

But the real scale of sexual violence committed during the war may never come to light. Only a fraction of victims tend to come forward and, according to the UN, this is especially true for men, some of whom may not initially realize that what happened to them was a sexual violence crime.

Some male victims of sexual violence may describe what happened to them instead as “torture.” The distinction, Sosonska explained, is important for any future court cases and war tribunals. Her office is also trying to educate the public about the fact that men can be victims of sexual violence – something Sosonska said may still not be fully understood.

Anna Mykytenko, who heads the Ukraine team at Global Rights Compliance (GRC), an international legal non-profit, said that Ukrainian witnesses and survivors of sexual violence have testified that Russian troops told them it was a “punishment.”

“In several villages in the south we heard witnesses and survivors say that the Russian servicemen came in, occupied the village, and then looked specifically for the wives of Ukrainian soldiers, or their mothers or sisters,” Mykytenko told CNN. GRC acts as the co-lead of the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group, an initiative launched by the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom to provide Ukraine with assistance in the investigation and prosecution of atrocity crimes.

Mykytenko said that while most cases of conflict-related sexual crimes that were reported and investigated earlier in the war concerned female victims, many of the cases recently recorded have been against male victims, especially against men held in captivity.

“Sexual crimes are fairly common in detention centers and it’s very common for prisoners of war or civilians to be threatened with rape or with the sexual abuse of different types, this is something that’s almost normal for the Russian and Russia-related armed forces,” she said.
 

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‘A systematic approach’​

The Ukrainian ombudsman’s office told CNN it believes that the Russian armed forces and Ministry of Defense, as well as the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, are the Russian government bodies officially responsible for what happens inside detention facilities.

However, it is Rosgvardia – a paramilitary police force deployed to keep order in occupied regions of Ukraine – and the FSB that appear to be driving the campaign of torture and sexual violence against the Ukrainian people, according to the ombudsman and Ukraine’s military intelligence service.

Since the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022, the FSB has opened several regional offices in occupied Ukraine to recruit agents and gather intelligence. According to an official organizational chart published on its website, the FSB has directorates in the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, in Crimea and in the occupied portions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Several survivors in these locations told CNN that the Russians who submitted them to sexual violence either identified themselves or were referred to by others as FSB officers.

Meanwhile, members of Rosgvardia, part of the Russian security apparatus that reports directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, are working alongside the Russian military to detain activists, quash protests and spread terror among the civilian population in occupied areas.

The SBU, Ukraine’s security service, has managed to track down several Rosgvardia and FSB officials who it said were either the direct perpetrators or the enablers of sexual violence against people held in detention.

A Rosgvardia serviceman watches a parade in Russia. The force, which reports directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been deployed to occupied Ukraine to quash protests and opposition.

A Rosgvardia serviceman watches a parade in Russia. The force, which reports directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been deployed to occupied Ukraine to quash protests and opposition.

Aleksey Smagin/Sipa USA/AP

The SBU and the Ukrainian regional prosecutor’s office in Kherson have identified Aleksandr Naumenko, the deputy head of Rosgvardia in Russia’s Rostov region, as a suspect in more than a dozen cases. Ukrainian authorities said last May he was responsible for overseeing a detention facility in Kherson during the occupation and that he personally ordered sexual torture of several victims who were electrocuted in their genital areas.

The notice of suspicion against Naumenko, a legal document seen by CNN, alleges that his subordinates and other members of Russian armed forces acted directly on his orders when they sexually abused at least 17 victims.

Two other Rosgvardia officers – Oleksandr Chilengirov and Yehor Bondarenkov – have also been accused of torture, including electrocuting at least 24 victims in their genitals at a different detention facility in Kherson.

Dmitry Laikov, an officer with the FSB’s Department for the Defense of Constitutional Order and Fight against Terrorism, is accused of overseeing genital electrocution of a detained Ukrainian citizen in a police station in the occupied city of Nova Kakhovka.

All four men have been indicted and their cases are currently being heard in court, according to Kherson prosecutors. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Ukrainian officials say that it is difficult, but not impossible, to track down individual perpetrators of sexual violence crimes. As of early May, Ukrainian prosecutors had issued official notices of suspicion against 42 Russian officers, filed 19 indictments against 28 individuals and sentenced five people. All of the trials took place in absentia, according to the prosecutors’ office.

Sosonska told CNN a handful of cases are added to her file each month, and that investigations are progressing. However, none of the alleged perpetrators are in Ukrainian custody.

Oleksii Butenko, a prosecutor in the Kherson regional prosecutor’s office, said he has no doubt that sexual violence was part of Russia’s strategy to subjugate the Ukrainian people in Kherson and to “destroy the Ukrainian national identity.”

“We can speak of a systematic approach – 17 men were identified as having been sexually abused inside a single torture chamber,” he told CNN. “We can say that the leadership, not only the perpetrators but also the management, is responsible – they gave permission or orders to commit these crimes.”

‘They were having fun’​

Andrii, a Kherson resident who was held in one of the Russian detention facilities, still remembers the screams of his fellow detainees more than a year and half after he was released. “We were kept in the basement of an office building. It was a small room with no furniture, we slept on cardboard and used a bucket to go to the toilet,” Andrii said.

Speaking to CNN in Kyiv, Andrii was clutching his hands nervously, looking away when describing what happened during his time in detention. He asked for his name to be changed and that no identifiable information about him be published.

“I was the last one to be taken in for interrogation, so I could hear them all being tortured in the next room. I couldn’t hear the conversations, only the screams and the moans. It was impossible to sleep because of these screams,” he said, recalling one particularly horrifying incident. “I don’t know who this man was and what happened to him … he was taken out into the corridor, where he was raped with a baton so that everyone could hear and see him.”

A war crime prosecutor inspects a basement of an office building in Kherson where some 30 people were held for two months during the Russian occupation.

A war crime prosecutor inspects a basement of an office building in Kherson where some 30 people were held for two months during the Russian occupation.

Anna Voitenko/Reuters

According to Andrii, the threats of rape and genital electrocution were the norm among the Russian forces. “They enjoyed it. They were having fun,” he said.

Ukrainian prosecutors have recorded incidents of Russian officials raping or attempting to rape victims using objects including batons, a pipe, a bottle, a handle of a shovel, a stick and a pen.

Sosonska said her office is determined to bring to justice not just the direct perpetrators, but also those who were in charge – whether they ordered them or failed to prevent them.

Her office is focused on prosecuting individuals, but it is also collecting evidence that will be shared with international courts, including the ICC, which prosecutes individuals over grave offenses such as genocide and war crimes, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which hears cases brought up against states.
 

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The ICC has already issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Russia’s children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, over an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia. The Kremlin has denied the allegations and called the ICC’s actions “outrageous.”

Sosonska said she believes that, just like the child deportations, sexual violence is part of what she called “Russia’s genocidal campaign” against Ukraine.

‘It is happening now’​

Oleksii Sivak knew the Russians were coming for him after his neighbor Shapovalenko, the farm manager, was taken.

The 39-year-old sailor from Kherson had helped him put up Ukrainian flags around their neighborhood on Ukrainian Independence Day.

Both men were civilian volunteers. Shapovalenko had been distributing supplies, helping people evacuate and sharing information about the location of Russian troops with Ukrainian military acquaintances, while Sivak ran a soup kitchen, organizing assistance, distributing leaflets and putting up posters and flags.

“We already knew about these torture rooms; we knew that people do not return from there. I went to deliver soup, warned the people I was helping, cut off all contacts and came home to wait for them,” he said. Hiding or trying to go on the run was not an option, he added, saying he was aware Russian forces were targeting the relatives of people they were interested in.

He said eight men came to arrest him – four in military uniforms and four wearing civilian clothes, all with their faces covered. They took him to a local police station and then handed him over to what they said was the FSB.

He recalled being beaten and tortured with an electric current from the same kind of field telephone described as being used in other detention facilities. “They called it ‘the lie detector’ and they were obviously having fun when spinning the dynamo, asking me ‘do you want to call Zelensky?’” he told CNN in an interview in Kyiv.

“First, they put the clamps on my ears and while they were shocking me, they were also beating me with a stick, kicking me, and hitting me with their hands … then they moved these wires from my ears to my genitals. They said, ‘we’re going to sterilize you now’ and things like that, while they were electrocuting my genitals.” Sivak believes he has a pretty good idea why the Russian troops chose to torture him in the way they did and threatened him with rape.

“They wanted to humiliate me. It’s obvious. What do you do to cause a man the most pain? You hurt his wife or his genitals,” he said.

Of the dozens of men he was held with, Sivak said roughly half were subjected to sexual violence. “It’s a whole system. Four people (tortured me) but they were just the hatchet men. Yes, they have no brains, yes, they are animals, but even if they are imprisoned, what about their bosses? Someone was managing them; someone was giving them orders.”

Sivak said he and several other survivors have formed an informal support group and are trying to raise awareness of the fact that men can be victims of sexual violence. Sivak has attended meetings with government officials and conferences where he shared his experiences.

Ukraine is prepared for a lengthy process to bring perpetrators to justice – while protecting the victims. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, Sosonska’s prosecutors, as well as other civil servants and local government officials, have received specialized training on victim-oriented approaches, learning how to recognize conflict-related sexual violence, run investigations and communicate with victims.

Some of the training programs have been provided by the UN in a direct response to the large number of sexual crimes occurring during the occupation. Others are run in cooperation with local non-governmental organizations and victim support groups. The UN has also co-sponsored a psychological helpline specifically aimed at male survivors.

It can take years or even longer for courts to rule and victims to speak out. Some survivors of sexual violence committed by the Bosnian Serb army during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s are only now coming forward.

“Some survivors might be willing to testify within a few months, for some, it may never happen, they may never be ready,” Sosonska said.

As for Shapovalenko, he said he wanted everyone to know what happened to him – and what is still happening to others.

“I want to tell everyone, tell the international community, that it is not like they came, occupied us, stood there with machine guns and left. No, it wasn’t like that,” he said. “And the most terrible thing is not what I am telling you now. The most terrible thing is that it is happening now in the occupied territories.”
 

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Russia Plans Major Tax Hikes​

In order to pay for the continuing war against Ukraine, the Russian government is forced to raise revenue with higher tax rates. But the tax increases tend to favor the wealthy.

by Eurotopics | June 1, 2024, 3:10 pm

Russia Plans Major Tax Hikes


Moscow is short of cash. The Russian Ministry of Finance has now presented the main points of a planned tax reform. It includes an income tax hike for high earners, with the maximum rate going up from 15 to 22 percent, and an increase in corporate tax rate from 20 to 25 percent. There will also be no more exemptions for VAT. Is the reform the "adjustment for fairness" it claims to be?

Superrich getting off lightly

The plan is socially unjust, argues journalist Sergei Yezhov in a Telegram post picked up by Echo:

“A higher tax rate [more than the standard 13 percent] will be introduced for those earning 200,000 roubles a month [approx. 2,000 euros]. People with that kind of salary can hardly be described as very wealthy in Moscow. So the idea is to cash in on this class with a small surplus, while oligarchs find ways to optimize their taxes... In addition, only salaries will be taxed at relatively high rates, whereas dividends are only taxed at 15 percent. So company owners will pay less than their employees – what an absurdity... This is what this 'progressive taxation' looks like. And there's no minimum below which income is tax-free. Not even the poorest will be exempt from this burden.”

Footing the bill for the war

In a Facebook post, political scientist Ilia Matveev sees the Russian war economy reaching its limits:

“The main measures include increasing VAT and corporation tax. Hence, the population and companies will continue to finance the war. The question is whether the defense industry can bolster the civilian sectors (true 'military Keynesianism'). But Russia has reached its limits in terms of reducing unemployment, utilising free production capacities and general synergies between the civil and military sectors. The military sectors are already growing while the civilian sectors are stagnating.”
 
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