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Russia will not default on public debt, can pay in rubles — Finance Minister

According to Anton Siluanov, the level of Russia's public debt is about 14% of GDP, of which 3% - to foreign creditors

MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. Russia will not default on its public debt, if the Western payment infrastructure is closed, the country will be able to fulfill its obligations in rubles, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday. He was speaking during the New Horizons marathon, held by the Znanie (Knowledge) association.

"We are not going to announce any defaults. We have money. <…> Ultimately, we will pay in rubles to the same foreigners if Western infrastructure is closed for us," Siluanov said.

He added that now the level of Russia's public debt is about 14% of GDP, of which 3% - to foreign creditors.

According to the Finance Ministry, as of February 1, 2022, Russia’s external public debt was $59.5 billion, including debt on external bonds - $38.97 billion. In total, Russia has 15 bond issues with maturity dates from 2022 to 2047.

In response to the sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 5 allowed to pay foreign currency debts to "unfriendly" countries in rubles. According to the decree, debtor companies or the state itself can open an account in Russian banks in the name of a foreign creditor and transfer payments to it in rubles at exchange rate of the Bank of Russia on the day of payment. Creditors from countries that have not imposed sanctions can receive payment in euros or dollars if the Russian debtor receives special permission for it.

Earlier, Siluanov said that Russia would repay its foreign currency debt only if its foreign currency accounts were unfrozen. Otherwise, Russia is ready to repay and service its foreign exchange obligations in rubles.