Putin announces partial mobilization, Russians start googling for way to leave Russia, and Big Mac index suggests hryvnia undervaluation

22 September, 02:54 PM

Newsletter by Romeo Kokriatski, Managing Editor, New Voice of Ukraine Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

•    Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has announced a “partial mobilization” in Russia.

In a pre-recorded address, Putin explained that the partial mobilization applies to reservists, especially those with combat experience. In this context, reservists include any Russian national that had attended a military faculty during school or university – such attendance is common, due to the possibility of receiving a discount or scholarship for tuition. The number of those mobilized from each region will be determined by the Ministry of Defense, according to the decree – for a total of 300,000 conscripts. Governors are tasked with organizing the conscription procedures.

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•    Military Expert Ivan Kirichevskyi, speaking to Radio NV, explained that it is unlikely that Russia will be able to mobilize that many men, and any who are mobilized are likely to be under-trained and under-equipped.

•    Additionally, Moscow announced that it would go ahead with annexation “referendums” in four occupied regions.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War believe this announcement is aimed at the domestic audience, and that Russia’s partial mobilization is likely a political mistake from the Russian dictator. According to the ISW, Putin likely hopes to improve Russian force generation capabilities by calling on the Russian people to volunteer for a war to “defend” newly claimed Russian territory. Analysts note that Russia has “neither the time nor the resources needed to generate effective combat power.”

•    Meanwhile, Latvia will not issue humanitarian or other types of visas to Russians fleeing the "partial mobilization" announced by Putin. According to the Latvian Foreign Minister, this decision was made “for security reasons.”

•    The announced mobilization has caused a spike in Google searches in Russia looking for ways to receive a deferral from conscription.

The phrase ‘how to leave Russia’ recorded a spike in search queries according to Google Trends, showcasing the Russian populace’s reaction to Putin’s announced partial mobilization.

•    Russian activists have called for a nationwide protest against the partial mobilization.

The Vesna anti-war movement are responsible for the call, and say that venues in St. Petersburg and Moscow would be announced shortly prior to the protests. Those in the regions would need to choose their own protest sites, the activists said.

•    As a result of the partial mobilization announcement, as well as the referendums, Russian stocks have again fallen.

The Moscow Exchange Index dropped 7.4%, while bluechips dropped 15%. The RTS index dropped nearly 10%, though the Moscow Exchange recovered 90 points by afternoon.

•    Ukraine has reacted to Putin’s announcement with mockery.

Advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's chief-of-staff, Mykhailo Podolyak, said the decision to send another 300,000 Russians to the war indicates that the Kremlin's military adventure has failed. "210th day of the ‘three-day war’,” his tweet posted on Sept. 22 reads.

•   Zelenskyy reiterated Ukraine’s conditions for negotiations, and said Ukraine would not budge regardless of Putin’s announcements.

“Our positions are clear and well known,” Zelenskyy said. “This is the only thing we should be interested in. Not in some noise somewhere, but in our goal.” He called for even more support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ukrianian intelligence agencies, the National Guard, police, border guards – everyone who is gradually restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

•   Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu claims that Russia is fighting the “collective West”, and not just Ukraine.

In an address that followed Putin’s, Shoigu pushed the false claim of “over a thousand foreign mercenaries” fighting for Ukraine, and estimated Russia’s mobilization resource at almost 25 million people.

•   French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a reform of the UN Security Council in response to Russian aggression.

In particular, Macron called for limits on the use of the veto by U.N. Security Council permanent members in case of mass crimes. He called on U.N. members to act to ensure that Russia halts its war against Ukraine. "This is not about choosing a camp between East and West or North and South,” the French leader added. “It’s about the responsibility of all those who respect the U.N. Charter and our greatest value and good — peace. Because, apart from the war, it is about the division of the world as a result of direct and indirect consequences of this conflict.”

•   China called on Russia and Ukraine to engage in dialogue.

Beijing was reacting to the announcement of a partial mobilization in Russia by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. “China’s position on Ukraine is consistent and clear,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a media briefing. China has failed to publicly condemn Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

•   The Big Mac index suggests that the Ukrainian hryvnia may be undervalued by as much as 46%.

The index — an economic indicator of the values of the world’s currencies relative to the U.S. dollar — was finally updated for Ukraine following the first re-opening of three McDonald’s locations in Kyiv since the start of the full-scale invasion. MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak noted that McDonald's is now charging UAH 101 for a Big Mac burger in Ukraine, and when the July index was calculated, a Big Mac in the U.S. cost on average $5.15. Thus, according to Big Mac prices, the official exchange rate of the hryvnia to the dollar should be UAH 19.6/$. At the same time, the official National Bank of Ukraine exchange rate is now $1 = UAH 36.6/$.

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