Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska criticized Moscow officials on Thursday for pushing away foreign investors and warned that Russia stands to run out of cash as soon as next year without additional funds—sounding an alarm on the country’s business climate as the war on Ukraine exhausts spending and raises questions about how long Russia can operate on a deficit.
Speaking at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum in Siberia, Deripaska, 55, said he’s “very worried all the time that the state and business are constantly being set against each other,” and posited that a deescalation in Russia’s war on Ukraine won’t happen before 2025—potentially keeping Western investors away from Russia for another decade.
“There will be no money already next year. . . . That’s why they’ve already begun to shake us down,” continued Deripaska, an aluminum tycoon who founded Russian industrial group Basic Element, adding that the nation “needs” foreign investors to continue operating.
The eyebrow-raising criticism from an oligarch who’s been sanctioned for ties to the Kremlin comes just weeks after Putin vowed there would be no reduction in military expenditures, telling officials that Russia has “no limitations” on spending for the war in Ukraine and is “giving everything that the army asks for” in order to help secure victory.
“Russia should keep developing the market economy,” Deripaska said Thursday, warning of the “serious” consequences of ongoing sanctions against Russia and cautioning, “State capitalism is not an option.”
The economic fallout quickly piled on after Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine last February and has intensified amid a growing list of sanctions targeting vast swaths of the Russian economy—including the tech, defense and energy industries, financial institutions and the nation’s wealthiest people. Russia’s military spending was expected to total about 3.5 trillion rubles last year—but reportedly eclipsed that level by September. With a growing list of countries banning Russian investments, economists project the country’s deficit could soar more than 55% to 4.5 trillion rubles ($59.7 billion), but questionable data from the country and uncertainty around oil prices (Russia’s biggest export) make it difficult to know how long Russia can continue to run on a deficit.
Deripaska is worth about $2.9 billion, according to Forbes estimates. He was the richest person in Russia and the ninth richest in the world in 2008 but then saw his fortune plunge amid crashing markets and heavy debts.
DOJ Charges Russian Billionaire Deripaska With Violating Sanctions—And Scheming For His Child To Be Born In U.S. (Forbes)