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Russia to settle eurobond debt in mirror of EU payments for gas

Russia to settle eurobond debt in mirror of EU payments for gas
The domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. Russia announced the start of a pullback of some forces after drills that raised U.S. and European alarm about a possible military assault on Ukraine. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Russia is constructing a way to pay its Eurobond debt that would sidestep the western financial infrastructure, now mostly off-limits because of the Ukraine war, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov was cited as saying in an interview with Vedomosti.

Foreign investors can open accounts in Russian banks in rubles and hard currency to receive payment, Siluanov told the Russian outlet. In short, it’s a reverse-image of the way European nations now pay for Russian gas while avoiding obstacles imposed by sanctions.

“This is how it works for gas payments: we get foreign currency, then it is converted to rubles” on behalf of the gas buyer, he said. “The Eurobond settlement mechanism will operate in the same way, but in the opposite direction.”

Russia will prepare the system, allowing it to settle with Eurobond investors without a license from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control before next coupon payments on dollar bonds due June 23-24, Siluanov told Russia-24 television on Friday.

Russia will make payments on Eurobonds in rubles, which can be converted into another currency, he said. Eurobonds denominated in euros will be paid in euros, because the European Union hasn’t adopted restrictions on payments in euros, he said.

Russia is being pushed closer to default by sanctions and restrictions imposed as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine. US banks and individuals have been barred from accepting bond payments from Russia’s government since last Wednesday. BM

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