BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2019/41

As of end-September, the value of Russia’s foreign currency and gold reserves reached 531 billion dollars, its highest level since 2013. This year’s gain of over 60 billion dollars has been largely due to Central Bank of Russia’s forex buying on behalf of the finance ministry. Higher prices for gold, which constitutes about 20 % of Russia’s reserves, have also helped.

First-quarter figures suggest the composition of Russia’s forex holdings has remained largely unchanged this year. As of end-March, some 30 % of Russia’s forex reserves were held in euros, 24 % in dollars, 14 % in yuan and 7 % in British pounds. During 2017−2018, Russia dramatically reduced the dollar component of its reserves, switching instead to euro and yuan assets. The change was apparently done in response to US sanctions.