In June, leaders of the G-7 countries (aka ‘the group formerly known as the G-8’, minus Putin) met in the picturesque German ski village of Garmisch, where they interspersed photo-ops and global security discussions with self-congratulatory statements about the impact that anti-Russian sanctions were having amidst that country’s expansion of influence into Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Not everyone agrees with that assessment. Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s richest man, scoffed at the effect of sanctions in an interview with Bloomberg. Potanin owns a 30 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel, a company that is not subject to Western sanctions – but is clearly a beneficiary. 2014’s steep fall in the ruble’s valuation was most welcome since the company pays its employees in rubles, while selling its products abroad in dollars. Norilsk shares have appreciated over 50 percent this year on the Moscow Stock Exchange. The ruble has also been the world’s best-performing currency so far this year.