Asia - Pacific

Around 35% of Russia's accessible reserves in country, China

While 21.7% of reserves are in Russia as gold, 13.8% are held in China, says analysis of data

Emre Gurkan Abay  | 01.03.2022 - Update : 01.03.2022
Around 35% of Russia's accessible reserves in country, China


Despite Western sanctions, 35.5% of Russia's reserves have remained accessible in the country or China, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency.

Although in their sanctions over Russia’s war on Ukraine, Western nations have frozen access to approximately half of the Russian central bank's reserves, a significant amount of the reserves still remain in Russia and China.

The Russian central bank reserves stood around $643 billion as of Feb. 18. While 21.7% of the reserves are in Russia as gold, 13.8% are being held in China.

However, some portion of the reserves is still being held in Western countries, mostly as foreign exchange. The central bank's access to those has been blocked by the Western sanctions.

Around 12.2% of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves are in France and 10% in Japan, while 9.5% are held in Germany and 6.6% in the US.

Another 5% of the reserves are in various intergovernmental organizations and 4.5% in the UK. Austria holds 3% of the reserves, with 2.8% in Canada and the remaining 10.7% in undisclosed countries.

US dollar share of reserves dropped

On Sunday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that more than half of the Russian central bank reserves will be blocked.

After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Moscow stepped up measures to make less use of US dollars in order to protect itself from risks in economic and global trade.

The share of US dollars in Russia's foreign exchange reserves fell to 16.4% in the first half of 2021, from 22.2% in the same period in the previous year, according to Russian central bank figures.

Last July the Russian Finance Ministry announced that the share of US dollars in the country's national wealth fund had been reduced to zero.

At the end of 2017, Russia’s central bank introduced the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, SPFS, an alternative financial transfer system against the possibility of getting excluded from the international SWIFT system.

The US and its allies agreed Saturday to remove certain Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as SWIFT, a global financial transactions and payments system used between banks worldwide.

*Ovunc Kutlu in Ankara contributed to this story.

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