On Wednesday, March 23, a member of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Dmitry Belik, commented to Izvestia on reports of the intention of a group of US senators to discuss with the Ministry of Finance the blocking of Russia’s gold reserve.
The parliamentarian noted that even the freezing of Russia’s foreign assets by the United States does not mean their confiscation and legally they continue to belong to it. Belik also noted that part of the Russian gold and foreign exchange reserves is in yuan, and that is why the West is trying to get China to restrict Russia’s access to its currency.
“Washington, in its attempts to harm, does not take into account the size of Russia and the volume of its economy. There will simply be no restrictions for authors. In fact, actions directed against Russia are capable of destroying the entire global financial system created 75 years ago,” he stressed.
The fact that a group of US senators intends to meet with the Treasury Department to discuss the blocking of Russia’s gold reserves worth about $132 billion earlier on Wednesday was reported by the Axios portal, citing sources. It is noted that the relevant bill, if adopted, involves the application of secondary sanctions to any American organizations that knowingly conduct transactions with gold from the reserves of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation or carry out its transportation. In addition, they may face restrictions when selling gold in Russia.
The day before, Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kag said in a letter to the national parliament that Amsterdam had frozen Russian assets worth €392 million. They belong to Russians who are on the sanctions list due to the situation around Ukraine. The minister noted that a total of 188 asset freeze reports had been received from banks, insurance companies, pension funds, fund managers and other financial institutions. She stressed that the amount could increase.
Nikolay Vavilov, a specialist in the strategic research department at Total Research, told Izvestiya that the freeze by the Netherlands of Russian financial assets of almost €400 million compared to the amount of gold and foreign exchange reserves is almost a thousand times more – this is a zilch that no one will really notice.
The specialist recommended paying attention to how events will develop specifically with gold and foreign exchange reserves, and if it is possible to achieve the release of funds from the Bank of Russia, then the rest of the money in other countries such as the Netherlands will be released quite quickly.
According to the Central Bank, as of February 18, Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves reached $643.2 billion. As of February 1, out of $630.2 billion of foreign exchange reserves, $132.3 billion accounted for gold, which is stored on the territory of the Russian Federation. Another $29.3 billion is accounts in special drawing rights, the reserve means of payment of the International Monetary Fund, and in the reserves of the IMF. The bulk of the reserves accounted for foreign currency and securities.
Western countries began to impose sanctions in response to Moscow’s special operation in the Donbass. On February 28, the European Union approved the decision to freeze the assets of the Bank of Russia. The head of the regulator, Elvira Nabiullina, assured that the Russian financial infrastructure would work smoothly.
Earlier in the day, the US Treasury banned transactions with the Central Bank, the Treasury and the National Welfare Fund. Before that, Washington imposed sanctions on a number of Russian companies with state participation or organizations important for the economy, and on “two more companies with a predominance of private capital.”
Russia launched an operation to defend Donbass on February 24 amid increased shelling by the Ukrainian military. The authorities of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) announced the evacuation of residents in the Russian Federation, and also turned to Moscow for help.
On February 21, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the independence of the DPR and LPR.
The Russian side emphasized that it does not hatch plans for the occupation of Ukraine, and strikes are carried out only on the military infrastructure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.