Russia is giving serious consideration to accepting Bitcoin in exchange for its gas and oil exports, a senior lawmaker has claimed.
Pavel Zavalny, head of Russia’s State Duma for energy, says Moscow – desperate to sell its huge supplies of fossil fuels – is looking for new ways to be paid for its exports.
He named ‘friendly’ countries such as China and Turkey, before suggesting that cryptocurrency could be used in order to bypass international sanctions imposed throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s coffers are understood to have been decimated by the global squeeze on its finances, but it Zavalny views Bitcoin as a lifeline forthe rouble which has already lost 20 per cent of its value.
“We have been proposing to China for a long time to switch to settlements in national currencies for roubles and yuan,” he said, pointing out that Russia was still the world’s main exporter of gas, and sitting on the world’s second largest oil reserve.
“With Turkey, it will be lira and roubles.
“You can also trade Bitcoins.”
The line about Bitcoins, says a senior research fellow at Singapore’s Energy Studies Institute, cannot be ignored.
“Russia is very quickly feeling the impact of unprecedented sanctions,” David Broadstock told the BBC.
“There is a need to shore up the economy and in many ways, Bitcoin is seen as a high growth asset.”
Mr Broadstock did, however, highlight a potential stumbling block – China’s stance on cryptocurrency.
“Clearly accepting Bitcoin, compared with other traditional currencies, introduces considerably more risk in the trade of natural gas,” he added.
“Moreover, one of the major ‘friendly’ trade partners for Russia is China, and cryptocurrency is banned for use in China – this clearly limits potential for payment using Bitcoin.”