Russia's Stock Exchange Crashes as Mobilization Rumors Swirl

Russia's stock exchange took a dive on Tuesday with the MOEX Russia Index—the ruble-denominated benchmark of the Russian stock market—sinking over 2 percent year-on-year, as per data from Trading Economics.

According to the website, which provides economic data for 196 countries, part of the reason why the market took a plunge is that investors are concerned over Russia's decreased energy exports to Europe and consequent lower profits, plus a decline in energy prices.

Another factor which might be playing into the market's fall is the recent spread of rumors saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin might soon launch a mass mobilization for the war in Ukraine.

While there's no certainty that this is a move the Russian leader will actually make—and the Kremlin said last week that there had been no discussion of a nationwide mobilization—some Russian politicians and nationalists close to Putin have been calling for such drastic action.

Russia economy
In this photo, two people walk in front of a large screen displaying the logo of Russia's energy giant Gazprom during the St. Petersburg International Gas Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia on September 15, 2022. The MOEX Russia Index sank by over 2 percent on Tuesday. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images

Russian independent news outlet SOTA reported on September 13 that the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) Gennady Zyuganov, speaking at a State Duma session, called for a general mobilization to support "the war" in Ukraine, saying the so-called "special military operation" is actually a full-fledged armed conflict.

"How is a special military operation different from a war? You can stop a military operation at any time. You can't stop a war; it either ends in victory or defeat. What I'm saying is that there is a war going on, and we have no right to lose it. We must not panic now. We need a complete mobilization of the country. We need completely different laws," Zyuganov said, as reported by SOTA.

The CPRF later tried to distanced itself from Zyuganov's statement, saying the party leader "called for mobilizing the economy and the political system, not for mobilizing the country's population."

But Zyuganov's wasn't a lone voice in this scenario.

According to the Washington-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War, the leader of the political party A Just Russia—For Truth, Sergey Mironov, called for a social "mobilization" which will make Russian citizens pay more attention to what's going on in Ukraine. His appeal fell short of calling for a full military mobilization.

Mikhail Sheremet, member of the Duma Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, reportedly said on September 12: "Without full mobilization…including the economy, we will not achieve the proper results. The fact is that society should be as united as possible and ready for victory."

Until now, Putin has avoided calling for a mass mobilization to support his campaign in Ukraine, as experts say the Russian leader wants to maintain a semblance of normality at home. This is proving increasingly difficult, as the conflict drags on and the Russian economy has started suffering from the imposition of Western sanctions.

The country is increasingly isolated in the global market, dealing only with those nations which are willing to turn a blind eye to the Ukrainian war and Putin's role in it. And things are expected to get worse in the coming months: according to the International Monetary Fund, Russia's GDP will drop by 6 percent this year.