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Russia proposes bitcoin payment for oil shipments to ‘friendly’ countries

Russia could allow “friendly” nations to pay bitcoin in exchange for oil and gas shipments — a proposal floated days after the Kremlin said countries that have imposed economic sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine would have to pay for their energy in rubles. Pavel Zavalny, chair of the Russian State Duma’s committee on energy, named China and Turkey as two such “friendly” countries because they are “not involved in the sanctions pressure” against Russia. The ruble’s value has collapsed in response to the sanctions, which included the ejection of Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system. “We have been proposing to China for a long time to switch to settlements in national currencies for rubles and yuan,” Zavalny said at a press conference on Thursday. “With Turkey, it will be lira and rubles.” “You can also trade bitcoins,” he added. The European Union relies heavily on Russian oil and gas shipments, further complicating efforts by Western nations to increase economic pressure on the Kremlin over its invasion of Ukraine. The US has implemented a ban on Russian oil and gas imports — though America only derived a small amount of its energy needs from those shipments. Energy prices spiked earlier this week after Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded “unfriendly countries” use rubles to buy his country’s oil and gas. The move was seen as an effort to bolster the ruble’s price and the broader Russian economy, which derives the majority of its annual revenue from energy sales. Zavalny echoed Putin’s demand in his remarks. “If they want to buy, let them pay either in hard currency, and this is gold for us, or pay as it is convenient for us, this is the national currency,” Zavalny said, referring to European nations. Bitcoin rose 4.5% to nearly $45,000 as of midday Friday. The leading cryptocurrency has rallied since the Russia-Ukraine war began in late February. The State Duma official’s declaration could further rile critics who say Russian entities and individuals can use cryptocurrencies to evade economic sanctions. Meanwhile, US officials imposed another round of penalties against prominent Russians, sanctioning hundreds of members of the Russian State Duma as well as the parliamentary body itself.

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