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Against all expectations, Russia paid the repayments on dollar loans today. They were a number of payments totaling about $117 million that the Russians would not be able to pay in dollars because of the sanctions. According to home economist Han de Jong, it is a strange game. ‘We make it difficult for them and see if they still manage to meet the payment obligations.’

No money shortage

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‘For the time being, the Russians say that they not only have sufficient resources, but also the possibilities to make payments in dollars or euros,’ says De Jong. The moment they no longer have those resources, the country can be declared bankrupt. ‘We don’t send a bailiff to Russia to sell all kinds of things, they simply no longer meet their payment obligations.’

Central bank
Also today is the general meeting of the Russian Central Bank. ‘That is a monetary policy meeting, but they will certainly also discuss how best to deal with the sanctions,’ says De Jong. “Russia has a huge pot of money, $600 billion in reserves, but they can’t access it because of the sanctions.” He also thinks that they will meet again about the stock exchange. “It’s been closed for weeks, and will have to open again.”

De Jong thinks the decisions taken by the Russian Central Bank may be surprising. Elvira Nabioellina is the head of the bank. She has made controversial decisions before. ‘After the annexation of Crimea, she tackled inflation in a controversial way.’ In any case, stopping paying the repayments as long as sanctions are in place is not an option for Russia. ‘All of this has dire consequences in the long run. So they will do their very best to keep paying.’

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