The Russian economy's industrial sector is in decline, according to air-pollution readings from satellites.
A Wall Street Journal report showed that the decline may be worse than what Moscow officially reports.
Pollution in Russia's industrial regions fell 1.2% in the six months to April, and is 6.2% lower annually.
Russia's economy is suffering from an industrial decline as Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine drags on, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing data from the European Space Agency's Sentinel-5P satellite.
The bird's eye view on Russia — courtesy of the Troposphereic Monitoring Instrument, which detects gases like nitrogen dioxide, ozone, methane and more — shows that the volume of air pollutants emitted by the country's factories has declined.
Analysts have grown increasingly skeptical about official data coming out of the Kremlin, and the government limited what data is released to the public since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.
Still, the satellite data offers a picture that cannot be easily obscured.
The Paris-based research firm QuantCube works with the ESA to analyze the data, and it tracks specifically the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air, which is a signifier of the amount of gas, diesel, and coal being burnt.
Over the last six months, the readings show that urban pollution in Moscow and St. Petersburg has ticked higher. But pollution in industrial regions has fallen 1.2% in the six months to April, and is 6.2% lower year over year.
By contrast, Russia's government data showed industrial production climbed 1.2% for the year up to March.
Additional satellite data shows that the automotive sector, construction, oil and gas, and even the defense industry are emitting less pollution. Meanwhile, the thermal power and metals industries are polluting more.
ECB economists Adrian Schmith and Hanna Sakhno have also incorporated satellite pollution data as part of their alternative tracker of economic data for Russia. Sakhno previously told Insider that GDP data coming out of the warring country has covered up the slowdown in the private economy.
"This is visible in our alternative tracker of domestic economic activity: Retail sales have been down, a plunge in domestic flight purchases, and stagnation of the housing market," she said. "These are the things that businesses deliver and consumers purchase in an economy, and they have been absorbing the impact. Our tracker shows a contraction of the Russian economy ahead of the official figures release precisely because we use high-frequency indicators from the private economy."
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