According to the reports, Moscow is due to pay $117 million (£89 million) in interest on two dollar-denominated sovereign bonds it sold in 2013. Top market experts believe that a grace period, allowing Russia another 30 days to make the payment, could drag the saga out
Guido Chamorro, pictet emerging market portfolio manager, told Reuters: “The thing about defaults is that they are never clear-cut and this is no exception.
“There is a grace period, so we are not really going to know whether this is a default or not until April 15.
“Anything could happen in the grace period.”
Anton Siluanov, Russian finance minister, said Moscow had instructed the US bank which handles the bond payments to make the transfer, but did not know if it had been rejected.
He said Russia had the money to pay the debt, but “now the ball is in the court, primarily, of the American authorities”.
Russia, reportedly, had nearly $650 billion of gold and foreign currency reserves, investment-grade credit ratings with S&P Global, Moody’s and Fitch, and was raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a day selling its oil and gas at soaring prices.
However, the unprecedented sanctions, which froze two-thirds of Russia’s reserves, has left the country crippled.
Jeff Grills, head of emerging market debt at Aegon Asset Management, told Reuters: “I think the market now expects Russia not to make the (bond) payments.”
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“This week we might get some sporadic news surrounding Russia’s interest payments, but a default will only be confirmed a few weeks from now.”
Moscow has accused the West of engineering an “artificial default” by sanctioning the central bank and freezing part of its $630 billion war chest of foreign reserves.