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25 February 2022

The rise of Fortress Russia

Russia’s international currency reserves now exceed its foreign debt, leaving it better prepared for the impact of sanctions.

By Ben Walker

In 2014, when Russia illegally occupied Crimea and fomented rebellion in Ukraine’s Donbas region, it had more foreign debt than international currency reserves.

At that point, Western sanctions helped push the Russian economy into recession with GDP falling by 3 per cent in 2015. 

Since then, however, the country has sought to insulate itself from future sanctions by fattening its currency reserves while reducing foreign debt.

The end product is a nation better prepared for sanctions than before. Since 2019, the value of Russia’s international reserves has exceeded its overall foreign debt.

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