MIKHAIL METZEL/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
- Russia’s top spy agency is worried that domestic banks don’t have enough foreign currency.
- That’s according to leaked US military documents reported by the Washington Post.
- Russia’s FSB also urged that any business deals with Chinese firms be kept secret.
Russia’s foreign-exchange woes have attracted the attention of the country’s top spy agency, according to US intelligence documents that were leaked onto a Discord channel and covered by the Washington Post.
The Federal Security Service, or FSB, is worried that domestic banks don’t have enough foreign currency, the leaked intel assessment said.
In addition, officials at the FSB — which is the main successor agency to the Soviet Union’s KGB — also urged that any business deals between Russia and China be kept secret due to the risk that the US could impose secondary sanctions on Chinese firms.
After Vladimir Putin launched his war on Ukraine last year, Western sanctions froze Russia’s foreign-currency reserves.
Since then, Russia has relied more on the Chinese yuan, as Beijing hadn’t sanctioned Russia. In fact, the yuan has surpassed the dollar as the most traded currency in Russia.
Meanwhile, individual Russian banks have also been targeted. The West imposed sanctions on MTS Bank in March, and 9.6 billion rubles of assets were frozen.
According to the Washington Post, employees of Russia’s Wagner Group, the mercenary contractor run by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, saw the MTS sanctions as a sign that dollar transactions would be suspended in May.
One finance employee worried it would prompt some Chinese businesses to cut their business dealings with Russia in order to not be impacted by the sanctions.
The leaked documents also said that US intelligence officials believe Russia can continuing paying for its war on Ukraine for at least another year.
“Moscow is relying on increased corporate taxes, its sovereign wealth fund, increased imports and businesses adaptability to help mitigate economic pressures,” said the top-secret assessment, according to the Post.