Four weeks after Russia sent troops into Ukraine, Russians are feeling the effects of Western sanctions and Moscow crackdowns. Here are five examples of everyday things that Russians can no longer readily access.


Videos of shoppers fighting to grab bags of sugar in supermarkets have gone viral, as Russians strip shops of staples, fearing shortages and price rises.

Sugar prices have risen astronomically and shops have imposed limits on how many bags each customer can buy.

In times of economic turmoil, older Russians, who remember food shortages of the early 1990s, instinctively reach for sugar, used to make jams and other preserves, and buckwheat, a popular grain in the country.

Russia has already restricted exports of sugar and grain and has sought to reassure the public that essential food products will not run out.

The Kremlin has described consumers' stock-piling as an "emotional" reaction.

Printer paper

Another item that has soared in price and disappeared from shelves is printer paper, with local media reporting that retail prices have doubled or tripled and that boxes are being resold online for even more.

This comes as some paper factories have suspended production, such as that of a popular brand, Svetocopy, in Saint Petersburg region in the country's northwest.

The reason is that the Russian paper industry uses sodium chlorate as a bleaching agent and imports the vast majority of this from abroad.


Middle-class Russians have got used to taking regular flights to Europe and elsewhere, but this has now come to an end due to the toughest ever sanctions, with Western countries closing their airspace to Russian airlines, which are also unable to access air plane parts from overseas manufacturers or obtain insurance abroad. 

International flights from Russia are now few and far between. Domestic flights may largely switch to Russian-manufactured planes such as the Sukhoi Superjet, which was dogged by glitches when it first began flying.

The challenges facing airlines are also sparking concerns over air safety.

Russians are joking on social media about how they will holiday at home or in Central Asia. But the difficulty of travel brings back bitter memories: both of the Soviet era when most citizens were unable to leave the socialist bloc, as well as of the numerous air accidents in the post-Soviet 1990s, before newer planes and tighter safety controls were introduced.

Foreign currency and bank cards

People with Russian bank accounts can no longer make payments abroad using Visa or Mastercard, which means those who have fled the country over recent events have been unable to access their money. Apple Pay has also stopped working in Russia.

As an immediate result, Russians can no longer buy apps and games or pay for goods on international websites that do not have a Russian branch.

This makes it impossible to pay subscriptions for services such as the US-based streaming service Netflix, which has in any case decided to suspend its service in Russia due to the current situation.

Strict currency controls have also been imposed on withdrawal of foreign currency from bank accounts, purchasing currency with rubles and taking it out of the country.

Social media

A new digital iron curtain has fallen on the country. Russia has blocked Facebook within its borders in retaliation against its California-based owner, Meta, after it blocked access to Kremlin-funded media outlets including RT within the European Union.

Twitter access is also severely restricted for similar reasons. 

The same goes for Instagram, also owned by Meta, a platform that was hugely popular with Russians posting selfies as well as small and medium-sized businesses that often made it their main online resource.

Russia in turn has classified Meta as an extremist organisation.



Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us