…Moscow has not even announced its own package of counter-sanctions. Yet an official decree “On Temporary Order of Obligations to Certain Foreign Creditors,” which allows Russian companies to settle their debts in rubles, provides a hint of what’s to come.
Russian counter-measures all revolve around this new presidential decree, signed last Saturday, which economist Yevgeny Yushchuk defines as a “nuclear retaliatory landmine.”
It works like this: to pay for loans obtained from a sanctioning country exceeding 10 million rubles a month, a Russian company does not have to make a transfer. They ask for a Russian bank to open a correspondent account in rubles under the creditor’s name. Then the company transfers rubles to this account at the current exchange rate, and it’s all perfectly legal.
Payments in foreign currency only go through the Central Bank on a case-by-case basis. They must receive special permission from the Government Commission for the Control of Foreign Investment.
What this mean in practice is that the bulk of the $478 billion or so in Russian foreign debt may “disappear” from the balance sheets of western banks. The equivalent in rubles will be deposited somewhere, in Russian banks, but western banks, as things stand, can’t access it.link