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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Russians in Thailand feel pressure as global sanctions tighten

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As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, Western governments are grappling with how to help the Ukrainian people and stop Putin’s deadly war. So far, the weapon of the West has been the implementation of massive economic sanctions to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the invasion. But experts say sanctions may not cripple the Kremlin enough to end the conflict.

The sanctions hit many of those who chose to live and work in Thailand, leaving countless Russians stranded. Not only are many dealing with financial problems, several Russian citizens told the editors of the Thai newspaper “Thai Enquirer” that they are being discriminated against.

Anna Samarina, a 37-year-old Russian who has lived in Thailand for five years, said the conflict has paralyzed her finances. Today she worries that she will not be able to support her child.

“We can’t live a normal life anymore,” Anna said. “Because of financial sanctions, I have to live with little money. My biggest concern is my son. I’m doing everything I can to take care of him.”

Mrs. Samarina added that Russia’s decision to block and criminalize online social media platforms, along with the sanctions, cost her her job as an online marketing specialist, as she has since lost contact with her online networks in Russia. In addition, she cannot use her Russian credit cards or transfer money.

SANCTIONS

Thousands of soldiers have died and 700 civilians have died since the conflict began. At least 3,169,897 people have fled to neighboring countries as a result of the violence, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has emotionally called for an enforced no-fly zone as many of the country’s major cities lie in ruins after heavy Russian shelling from the ground and air. Despite NATO smuggling weapons through Poland, Zelenksy is urging the international community to tighten economic sanctions and further sever ties with Russia.

So far, much of the western world, including the European Union and the United States, has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia targeting banks, oil refineries and military exports. The global financial transaction and payment system SWIFT has suspended services from Russia. Credit card services, VISA and Mastercard, tracked and deactivated credit cards for countless Russian citizens such as Samarina.

“I cannot change what my country has done,” Anna said. “I lost my job and my relationship with many friends who spread hatred against Russians.” Not only does Anna struggle to find a new job to cope with her personal financial crisis, but she is also discriminated against and exposed to hostility everywhere she goes. She said she was finding it difficult to cope with the aftermath of the war, a global event she felt she had no part in and disagreed with.

“Hatred against us is predictable discrimination. But I can’t change it. Sorry!

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