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Russia says West trying to push it into ‘artificial default’

Russia is accusing the West of seeking to push it into an “artificial default” through unprecedented sanctions over Ukraine, but is vowing to meet its debt payments.

Russia is due to make an interest payment on its external debt later this week and Moscow warned it will be doing so in rubles if sanctions prevent it from using the currency of issue.

“The freezing of foreign currency accounts of the Bank of Russia and of the Russian government can be regarded as the desire of a number of foreign countries to organize an artificial default that has no real economic grounds,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says in a statement.

Ratings agency Fitch last week downgraded Russia’s sovereign debt rating deeper into junk territory, warning that the decision reflects the view that a default is “imminent.”

But Siluanov denied that Russia “cannot fulfil the obligations” of its government debt.

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