As sanctions shook Russia’s economic fortress, Maxim Oreshkin offered a series of solutions to break the siege for the country.

A few weeks after Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine, the West began to impose unprecedented sanctions on Moscow. These policies sent the ruble down, and Russia struggled to avoid default on its government debt.

On March 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin countered, demanding that the West pay in rubles when buying Russian gas. According to sources close to Bloomberg , the author of this policy is Maxim Oreshkin – Putin’s 40-year-old economic adviser.

Since the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Oreshkin has emerged as one of the key members to help Putin plan economic policy. He has experience with Western finance, which could help the Kremlin deal with sanctions.

“They are currently very busy figuring out how to ease the impact of sanctions and have so far been quite successful,” said Sergei Guriev, an economist who advised the Russian government early in Putin’s term. said.

Maxim Oreshkin when he was the Minister of Economy of Russia.  Photo: Reuters

Maxim Oreshkin when he was the Minister of Economy of Russia. Photo: Reuters

Defensive policies have helped Russia avoid the worst economic consequences ever predicted when the West imposed new sanctions. The decline in Russian GDP is now forecast to be only half as much as before. The ruble also recovered, even among the world’s strongest gainers as tens of billions of dollars and euros are flowing into Russia in exchange for energy and other exports.

With the policy of paying for gas in rubles, Oreshkin helped Russia force the EU to make concessions. Most gas-consuming countries Russia has signed a new agreement with the provision of opening a special account at Gazprombank for payment. This helped Gazprombank avoid sanctions.

“I think the effect of this policy of buying rubles with gas is positive,” Oreshkin told Bloomberg , declining to comment on his role in the strategy.

Oreshkin was the youngest son of an intellectual family in Moscow. He grew up during the volatile economic times of the 1990s.

Like Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Alexey Zabotkin and Deputy Finance Minister of Russia Vladimir Kolychev, Oreshkin graduated from Russia’s prestigious economic school. The three then worked for European banks before being appointed to top government positions.

They helped Putin build an economic fortress. The more Russia is attacked both at home and abroad, the more important the role of all three in creating resilience for the economy to major external shocks.

Oreshkin joined the Russian government in 2013, with a leadership position at the Ministry of Finance. In 2015, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance and in 2016 as Minister of Economy of Russia. He has been an economic adviser to President Putin since 2020.

During his three years at the Ministry of Finance, Oreshkin was one of the officials who created the mechanism to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from oil and gas exports to a state fund, helping the Kremlin withstand crises such as the sanctions wave in 2014 for annexing Crimea.

Oreshkin is also the one to come up with the words that Putin will use in the speech. He also coined phrases that Putin repeats over and over, like describing Russia’s policy of freezing foreign assets as “lack of compliance” with obligations to Russia.

The time working at Societe Generale Bank Russia branch also gave Oreshkin experience in the West, thereby helping Russia to soften the effects of sanctions. He laid out plans to limit the consequences of Russian banks being excluded from SWIFT.

President Putin brought Oreshkin with him on a visit to Iran – a country with decades of experience in withstanding Western sanctions. When asked to comment on Iran’s ideas for circumventing sanctions, Oreshkin replied: “Our policy is much better.”

Even so, Russia remains in trouble as the United States and its allies freeze $600 billion in foreign reserves that Oreshkin’s policies helped build. For the first time in a century, Russia was declared insolvent on foreign debt . The economy isn’t as tough as it was at the beginning of the conflict, but it’s still headed for one of the worst recessions in decades.

Oreshkin has recently become President Putin’s economic right-hand man. When some officials called for increased government control over the economy, Oreshkin protested.

“Russia will not give up the market economy,” Oreshkin said in an interview with Bloomberg. “On the contrary, privatization policies are particularly encouraged. This was mentioned in the President’s remarks. “.

Even so, like other Russian officials, Oreshkin was not very interested in the Western economy. He even called USD “a drug used to make the whole world addicted”.

Oreshkin is also optimistic about the Russian economy. He believes that the country’s GDP will not fall more than 5% this year. Meanwhile, the forecast of the Russian Ministry of Economy in May is that GDP will decrease by 7.8%.