Russia said on Sunday it was counting on China to help it weather the blow to its economy from Western sanctions, which it said had frozen nearly half of its gold and foreign exchange reserves. .
“We have part of our gold and currency reserves in the Chinese currency, in yuan. And we see what pressures are exerted by Western countries on China in order to limit mutual exchanges with China. Of course, there are pressures to limit access to these reserves,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said.
“But I believe that our partnership with China will always allow us to maintain the cooperation that we have achieved, and not only to maintain it, but also to increase it in an environment where Western markets are closing.”
Western countries have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia’s trading and financial system since it invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a special military operation.
Siluanov’s comments in a TV interview marked Moscow’s clearest statement that Moscow will seek China’s help to cushion the impact.
The two countries have tightened their cooperation lately, as they have both come under heavy Western pressure over human rights and a host of other issues.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing on Feb. 4 and announced a strategic partnership they said was aimed at countering U.S. influence, describing it as friendship without limits.
Sanctions on Russian reserves have become one of the most painful measures for the Russian economy.
A month ago, Siluanov said Russia would be able to weather sanctions with ample reserves and was even considering offering Eurobonds to foreign investors once market volatility subsided.
On Sunday, he said the sanctions had frozen about $300 billion of the $640 billion Russia had in its gold and currency reserves.
Siluanov also said Russia would meet its public debt obligations and pay rubles to its creditors until state reserves are unfrozen.