Russia Not Diversifying Away From U.S. Treasurys: Finance Minister

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, left, and Boris Titov, the president’s commissioner for entrepreneurs’ rights, at the St. Petersburg economic and business forum.



Russia, which was planning to cut its exposure to Western sovereign bonds, hasn’t yet started cutting the amount of U.S. Treasurys in its reserves in favor of bonds issued by some of the largest emerging economies, Finance MinisterAnton Siluanov said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an annual economic forum, Mr. Siluanov said that Moscow wanted to ditch bonds issued by the U.S. in the wake of threats that Russia could be knocked off the so-called SWIFT network. But that never happened and the decision to change Russia’s international reserves structure hasn’t been made, he said.

In late 2014, on the back of intensifying reciprocal sanctions between Moscow and the West, Russia’s finance ministry considered diversifying its debt portfolio away from countries involved in the sanctions and into the paper of Brazil, India, China and South Africa, which with Russia are known as the Brics countries.

When asked about the Greek crisis, Siluanov said Athens hasn’t sent Russia an “official request” for financial aid.

Russia’s finance ministry has repeatedly said it has no money to assist Greece. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is currently visiting St. Petersburg to meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at the annual economic and investment forum.

Mr. Siluanov said Russia’s budget deficit this year could be lower than the previously expected 3.4% of gross domestic product thanks to oil prices that recovered above a projected level of $50 a barrel. The government will hold a meeting on the budget next week, he said.