The latest sanctions imposed on Russia over its military offensive in Ukraine have frozen about half of the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, according to Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.
“We have a total amount of reserves of about $640 billion, about $300 billion of reserves are now in a state in which we cannot use them,” he said in an interview with state TV channel Rossiya 1 on Sunday.
The minister added that the Western allies were putting pressure on China to limit trade relations with Russia to obstruct the Kremlin’s access to national reserves held in Chinese yuan.
“But I think that our partnership with China will still allow us to maintain the cooperation that we have achieved, and not only maintain, but also increase it in an environment where Western markets are closed,” Siluanov said.
The top official reiterated previous statements about Russia’s debt obligations, saying that the country will service its external debt in rubles if the foreign exchange accounts of the central bank and government remain blocked.
The US and its European allies have applied a similar strategy with regard to Moscow, making Russia the world’s most sanctioned nation within weeks of launching the military operation in Ukraine. The asset freeze on the Central Bank of Russia was imposed as part of those penalties.