Moscow will take legal steps if forced to default on sovereign debt payments: Finance Minister

On Monday, in a significant development, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said, Moscow will initiate legal steps if the United States tries to force it to default on its sovereign debt.

“Of course we will sue, because we have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that investors receive their payments,” said Siluanov. “We will present in court our bills confirming our efforts to pay both in foreign currency and in roubles. It will not be an easy process. We will have to very actively prove our case, despite all the difficulties.”

Russia faces its first sovereign external default in more than a century after the US blocked it from making an international bond repayment in roubles earlier this week; originally the payment was due in U.S. dollars.

Siluanov stressed, Moscow will do everything to make sure its creditors are paid.

“Russia tried in good faith to pay off external creditors,” said Siluanov. “Nevertheless, the deliberate policy of Western countries is to artificially create a man-made default by all means.”

He went on to add, “Russia’s external liabilities amount to about 20% of the total public debt, which stood at about 21 trillion roubles ($261.7 billion). Of that, about 4.5-4.7 trillion roubles were external liabilities.”

Russia has not defaulted on its external debt since the aftermath of its 1917 revolution.

“If an economic and financial war is waged against our country, we are forced to react, while still fulfilling all our obligations,” said Siluanov. “If we are not allowed to do it in foreign currency, we do it in roubles.”

($1 = 80.2500 roubles)

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