Russia has floated accepting Bitcoin payments for oil and gas exports — but only from “friendly” countries, reports the BBC.
The head of Russia’s State Duma energy committee, Pavel Zavalny, revealed this week that Moscow would theoretically accept Bitcoin and local currency from nations not involved in sanctioning Russia over its Ukraine invasion.
Among Russia’s labelled “friendly countries” are Turkey and China, two of Russia’s largest trading partners. “Unfriendly countries” include the US, UK, and EU member states.
Speaking about the potential deals, Zavalny said: “We have been proposing to China for a long time to switch to settlements in national currencies for rubles and yuan.”
“With Turkey, it will be lira and rubles. You can also trade Bitcoins,” he added, our emphasis.
China imposed a blanket crypto ban last year. This obviously raises questions about just how much Bitcoin its government would have at its disposal.
President Vladimir Putin also stated this week that so-called “unfriendly” countries were still welcome to buy Russian oil and gas. However, there’s a caveat: they would have to pay in rubles.
The ruble has dipped about 25% this year as strict sanctions imposed by western nations start to bite.
In a televised meeting with government officials, Putin said (via BBC):
“Russia will continue, of course, to supply natural gas in accordance with volumes and prices … fixed in previously concluded contracts.”
“The changes will only affect the currency of payment, which will be changed to Russian rubles.”
Bitcoin payments unlikely, Russia wants rubles
Russia is the world’s biggest supplier of oil and gas and Putin’s insistence that non-friendly countries pay in rubles could be an attempt to revive the country’s economy and fund its war efforts.
However, as reported by Reuters, Putin’s demands may not be possible because many contracts to buy Russian gas and oil are in euros.
Polish government sources have already made it clear that the country would not be renewing its contract with Russian supplier Gazprom when it expires this year.
This was echoed by Dutch energy firm Eneco. A spokesperson for the company said, “I can’t imagine we will agree to change the terms of that.”
And Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck said the demands would constitute a breach of contract. So paying in Bitcoin isn’t likely — but it’s still wild to see the cryptocurrency namedropped on the world stage in this context.
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