Can Russia break dollar's spine?

Gas, oil and defense products for rubles. This is what Russian monopolists think to do on the world market. The initiative came from the head of VTB Bank, Andrei Kostin. According to him, the move to switch to payments in a different currency will strike a blow on the dollar system. The question is whether other market participants, in particular in the oil and gas field, are going to agree to such terms.

Russian bankers and big business, in light of recent threats from the West, may break the dollar peg of the world market. The initiative from the head of VTB looks too ambitious, but this is only an impression at first glance. There are Russian experts who believe that abandoning the dollar settlement in exports of gas and oil products, as well as the products of Russian defense enterprises, is quite simple. In this case, the omnipotent dollar system may incur losses. Thus, according to the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation of Russia, as of the results of 2013, the volume of deliveries of Russian military equipment amounted to 15.7 billion dollars. By early 2014, the order backlog reached $40 billion. That is, the demand on the products of the Russian defense industry has been growing. Yet, most payments are made in dollars, which means that the American system benefits from the Russian trade. Now that the U.S. introduces sanctions against Russia, wouldn't it be logical for Russia to abandon the widespread support of the American national currency?

"I think that this is a kind of a good initiative that tomorrow nobody will be able to realize, - chief editor of Arms Export magazine, Andrei Frolov, shared his opinion with Pravda.Ru. - There are contracts with a long term of execution, and if contracts are executed in dollars, it is highly unlikely that they would agree to recalculate them in rubles. It would be possible, though, if Russian rubles were used in trade with the CIS countries. If this lesson is successful, it would then be possible to apply it to foreign countries."

At the same time, according to experts, the process to switch to another currency may take years, even if Russian partners agree to take it up. The case in the oil and gas sector is even more interesting, which, as the head of VTB Andrei Kostin believes, should also be decoupled from the dollar. Of course, a game change on the market of "black gold" will allow Russia to give the US currency a punch. The US dollar has been strongly connected to the petrodollar system since the end of the last century. Gazpromneft already considers a possibility to replace dollars with euros in export transactions. The head of the company, Alexander Dyukov, said that  95 percent of buyers of Russian raw materials agree with the proposal, RBC reports. Of course, such a decision will not be made in the next few days, as it will cause quite big difficulties. Yet, if the US continues to press Russia with sanctions, the Russian big business will be forced to take such crucial measures. Will the buyers of Russian oil and gas companies agree to accept such conditions?

"Other players will somehow have to adapt to the seller, because there is no other place where they could buy fuel from,- leading expert of the Union of Oil and Gas Producers of Russia, Rustam Tankan told Pravda.Ru. - We have the following situation. Our main customers have been trying to get rid of us as suppliers for half a century already. European states decided 50 years ago to buy not more than one-third of energy carriers. It was at the time of the USSR, but now it's Russia, and Europe wants to get rid of these supplies. They have done everything that could be done to refuse from Russian deliveries​​. Today, they do anything that can be done immediately, so consumers - those who buy Russian oil and gas - are forced to do it. They buy it not because there is a wide choice for them - they have nowhere to go. In this situation, if we want to pay in rubles or even yuans - they only want to buy. I do not think that the consumers of our gas and oil will have some problems from paying us Russian rubles or other currencies."

Gazprom currently analyzes the possibility of using the ruble more actively in its payments with foreign buyers. Although, according to Rustam Tankaev, the move to refuse from dollar settlements in exporting resources can not cause significant damage to the dollar system (because the share of Russian money in the turnover of funds on the global oil and gas market is not too large), there will surely be benefits received from it, especially for the Russian ruble. Ruble settlements would increase the liquidity of the ruble, the expert believes.

Elizaveta Polskaya

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov