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Brain Drain Flight is the Lasting Price Putin Pays for Invading Ukraine

Sanctions have hurt the EU as much as Russia by driving up prices. Brain drain is another matter.
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Flight statistics from Rosstat predating the Ukraine invasion

Flight statistics from Rosstat predating the Ukraine invasion

Young professionals, often working in tech, have left the country after the Ukraine invasion: ‘I can’t live in a country that goes to war with its neighbors,’  reports the WSJ.

A mid-March survey by OK Russians, a nonprofit helping people leave the country, estimated that around 300,000 workers had departed since the war started in late February. While precise counts of the number of people leaving Russia aren’t available, some economists have reached similar conclusions about the scale of the outflow. Around 500,000 people left Russia in 2020, according to Rosstat, Russia’s statistics agency.

“The people who are either leaving or planning to leave are highly educated and generally young,” said Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance. “This is your most productive part of the labor force that is disappearing.”

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a top regional development bank, expects the Russian economy to contract 10% this year.

It added that people leaving Russia, coupled with reduced investment and trade, would result in lower long-term productivity growth. Spending on information technology is expected to drop sharply.

Those who study Russia said the pace at which people are departing hasn’t been seen since the 1917 revolution, when millions of the Russian nobility and educated upper-middle classes fled the emerging Communist state. Several million of Russians left after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, but did so over several years.

There are many anecdotes in the above article and that's a non-paywalled link for those who wish to read more.

Putin wants the dissidents to leave, just not the highly skilled ones. Instead it's the other way around.

Symbolic Sanctions

Symbolic sanctions are all the West has left given the EU will not ban Russian energy imports. Even if it did, supply chain re-routing will just send oil and gas to China at a cost to everyone.

For discussion, see Coal, Natural Gas, and Oil Sanctions Off the Table, What About Caviar and Vodka?

However, the brain drain is permanent. Most will of the highly educated workers who leave will not go back. And the pace of leaving due to Russian atrocities will escalate. 

How About a Big Welcome?

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On March 27, I stated We Should Welcome and Invite More Ukrainians to the USA

President Biden announced the US would invite 100,000 Ukrainians to the US. Is that the best we can do?

People keep asking me what we should do. 

Here's a positive idea that unlike sanctions will not backfire: We should invite displaced Ukrainians and Russian dissidents as well, and more of both.

This post originated at MishTalk.Com.

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